Moving the Tourism Industry to Online Marketing and Sales: Impact and Opportunities Caused by COVID-19

Moving the Tourism Industry to Online Marketing and Sales: Impact and Opportunities Caused by COVID-19

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8294-7.ch003
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The COVID-19 pandemic, which directly affected many industries around the world and was referred to as a major crisis, had the greatest impact on the tourism industry due to travel restrictions. The most important reason why COVID-19 is associated with the tourism industry is that international travel is extremely effective in the spread of the virus. Therefore, tourism is one of the industries affected by travel restrictions, quarantine, and isolation practices to slow and stop the spread of the virus. In addition to preventions, tourism sales and marketing activities were suddenly interrupted due to health concerns of individuals who want to travel. So, it is very important to examine the impacts and opportunities caused by COVID-19 in tourism sales and marketing. With the impact of tourism from COVID-19, the moving of marketing and sales to online has been quicker with the developing technology. The necessity to adapt to digital transformation is drastically changing online marketing and sales activities, and it will change even more in the future.
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There are many crises and threats such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, economic and political problems, and pandemics that cause tourism sales and marketing activities to change (Faulkner, 2001; Ghaderi et al., 2012: 81). Like all industries, tourism has been affected by natural and human-induced crises. However, the crisis from the Covid-19 outbreak is different in many ways and has not been predictable. In the past, while disasters, terrorist attacks, and problems generally occurred at the regional or national level, Covid-19 has had a worldwide impact today. Covid-19 has also affected the behaviour of many tourists in tourism. As shown in Figure 1 by United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) (June 2020), Covid-19 has had an extraordinary impact on tourism around the world. Inbound tourist arrivals dropped by 44 percent in the first four months of 2020, followed by a dramatic 97 percent drop in April. So it caused an even greater economic collapse, as it had a worldwide impact rather than a regional or national level. Since it remains uncertain when this negative situation will end, it seems that the Covid-19 outbreak will continue to be discussed for a long time and its current and possible effects will be investigated for a long time.

Figure 1.

Changes in tourist arrivals


Since it can easily infect other people, the Covid-19, which affects everybody in a short time, has caused health concerns in people. It has caused people who want to travel and vacation to suspend their travel and vacation plans due to feeling anxiety and plenty of warnings and preventions. This situation disrupted the sales and marketing activities in tourism due to the postponement of travel decisions and reservation cancellations. On the other hand, country governments are trying to maintain a balance between advancing their economies and stopping dangerously rising levels of unemployment and poverty while trying to protect public health (Aburumman, 2020). However, the unexpected emergence and rapid spread of Covid-19 caused all businesses in the tourism industry, to be caught unprepared.

As in all industries, enterprises in the tourism industry are also forced to change their business models due to Covid-19. The emergence of Covid-19, the rapid spread of the internet, and the increase in the number of internet users caused tourism marketing and sales to move online to a large extent. Despite this important effect of the internet, tourism marketing and sales activities had still been done with traditional business models in the past. However, the Covid-19 pandemic that occurred in 2019 caused the sales and marketing activities in tourism to take place largely online.

Technology has affected the functioning of tourism as well as in all industries. New technologies that make life easier have started to be used frequently in tourism. In this period, it is possible to say that isolation will be at the forefront, starting the digitalization period to a great extent. Covid-19, which causes radical changes in the sales and marketing practices of tourism enterprises, is predicted to change the course of the industry in the future. In the digital world, it can easily be said that tourism marketing and sales will be more technology-oriented than before. Communication and reservation systems that prevent direct contact are some of the important changes experienced during the pandemic process in cooperation with local and foreign tourism companies. Therefore, it is possible to say that isolation will be at the forefront, starting the digitalization period to a great extent in this period.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Internet of Things (IoT): Is digital machines that allow devices to be connected and controlled by a microprocessor and the internet.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): Is an important application in the tourism industry and is used to create personalized presentations for clients.

Virtual Reality (VR): Is among the technologies used in marketing, sales, and management in the tourism industry and offers high-quality entertainment applications.

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