The coronavirus pandemic will likely cost the global tourism sector $2 trillion in lost revenue in 2021, the UN’s tourism body estimated last month, calling the sector’s recovery “fragile”. “We now have the unique chance to smart investments and to sustainably change the industry for the better”, said Stefanie Schachtschabel founder and CEO of Dubai-based travel platform Welcome to the World.
By Arthur Blok
“Now is the time to rethink your business models and concept, to establish something that is more sustainable for the future”, the Dutch entrepreneur added.
The video-inspired Welcome to the World platform offers travel, and leisure operators the opportunity to create their online merchant profiles that leverage content revitalization features.
Individual users book directly with the business, and they unlock free local and venue-related welcoming benefits after creating a personal account. As a result instead of landing at foreign-owned commission-driven aggregators the money lands where it’s earned.
According to the latest forecast by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), roughly $2 trillion was lost in 2020 as well. Making the tourism industry one of the sectors hit hardest by the global health crisis.
Despite recent improvements, the report warned that travel demand could be further affected by “uneven vaccination rates around the world and new COVID-19 strains which had prompted new travel restrictions in some countries.
In the past weeks, the emergence of the Omicron variant has led dozens of countries to reinstate restrictions on arrivals, or to delay relaxation in COVID-19 travel and testing rules, leading to wide uncertainty for holiday season travelers worldwide.
“If we look into the world going into another travel pause, it will certainly increase the desire and demand for travel on the other end of that,” said Veronica Landry of Welcome to the World’s business strategist, and relationship building advisor who has over twenty years of global experience working in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
According to the French-Canadian national who has broad experience in destination marketing herself “modern-day end-users” are becoming much smarter travelers: “They want the best experiences when they travel. This includes best rates, added perks, knowing holistically what a destination has to offer.”
“New non-commission-based platforms like Welcome to the World showcase a sustainable way for destination stakeholders to work together to make a destination shine and are therefore a great investment”, she added.
Welcome to the World’s content gives users a comprehensive overview of each destination’s best options in six segmented categories – Sleep, Eat, Do, Discover, Socialize and Shop – and allows them to click-through and book directly at merchant-owned booking portals.
“The industry is being hit unprecedentedly hard at the moment. That is why smart investments are so important. Invest in companies that are future-proof and have a positive impact in our local communities” Schachtschabel continued.
Schachtschabel emphasized that “now is the time” to invest in initiatives that consider their social impact on their business model. “We have to challenge the current status quo in the industry and invest in initiatives that have an eye for local communities and entrepreneurs. That is the way out of this global crisis.”
Late September, His Highness Sheikh Mana bin Mohammed bin Rashid bin Mana Al Maktoum signed an exclusive local partnership agreement named Welcome to the UAE. Preparations are well underway for similar agreements with partners in France, Greece, Italy, Qatar, and Mexico.
Welcome to the World is still open for other investors who drive business leadership as a Force for Good. The current investment round closes by the end of the fourth quarter of 2021.