16th March 2020. The UK prime minister announces a ban on nonessential travel and contact.
On the 26th, the first lockdown commences. Nonessential shops are closed. Students confined to accommodation. Flights are grounded. Shops run out of toilet roll as a result of panic buying.
Dolphins return to Blackpool in the North. The UK recorded one of the best summer weather in years. The sky’s were quiet. Communities came together for a short time. Streets were filled with the sound of clapping for the NHS workers, delivery drivers and other essential workers. Windows were filled with rainbows in support of the NHS.
12th April 2021. Over a year later, most things open up a bit more, and then self-contained accommodation holiday’s were encouraged.
Lots of independent businesses closed as a result of lockdown, but how big of an impact did COVID have on the travel industry?
Travel industry struggling…..
During the first lockdown, accommodation and travel agency businesses saw the sharpest decline in turnover during the first national lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May 2020.
Hays travel had to close 89 of their UK branches. This company provided work for the staff who came from Thomas Cook when that company closed down. This company is still active and continue to make their loyal customers happy.
“The family-run firm stepped in to take over all 555 Thomas Cook travel agencies – as well as 2,330 former staff – after the failure in September 2019.” – The Gaurdian.
What happened to the staff?
Well, about 450 staff lost their jobs after a slump in business caused by the government’s sudden warning against travel to Spain.
Now this is a big company, and these 80+ branches are just a drop in the pool when you find out they have over 500 other branches to fall back on. When you’re a small company or just one shop/restaurant, the story is not the same…
In places like Greece and cities like Rome, restaurants not only need local residents to keep them going but they sometimes depend too on the tourism generated by local attractions. With lockdowns happening all over the globe, travellers were stopped from entering the country, which meant that small businesses that needed the income from holiday makers needed to close down or shut up shop.
Unemployment in Italy
Italy was the first European country to lockdown nationwide in an attempt to stop the spread. In March 2020, Italy’s industrial production fell almost 30%! The decline in unemployment started at the start of March and continued in April, reaching the lowest figure since 2007.
“Since July 2020, employment has started growing at a constant rate. However, employment levels in August 2020 are still 1.8% lower than the ones registered in August 2019. The drop in the number of employed is largely due to fixed term contracts not being renewed.”IZA
According to Statista, Forecasts published in April 2021 expect that the unemployment rate in Italy will stand at 10.3 percent this year, an increase compared to 2020.
8.4 Million people are currently unemployed in Italy.
We can see on this chart, (provided by Trading Economics), that the numbers stayed at 9.3 percent in August of 2021, unchanged from July.
This is promising and can bring hope for those who are trying to find work, but as we have seen, nothing is ever guaranteed.
In conclusion, it is easy to see that everything is connected and that when one part of the chain is affected, the rest suffer too. Those who have been affected badly by Coronavirus, whether it is physically, mentally, emotionally or financially, I hope you are soon able to find some relief from your struggles.