When Covid-19 initially gained traction and began sweeping across the world at an alarming rate, countries were quick to shutter their borders and isolate themselves on national levels in efforts to curb the outbreak. As of April 6, 96% of all worldwide destinations had introduced travel restrictions in response to this global pandemic, reported the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). While no sector was left untouched by this worldwide closure, the tourism industry was especially hard-hit with international tourist arrivals this year projected to decline by 30%, equating to a staggering estimated loss of almost AED 184 billion in spending.
As one of the world’s top 10 destinations for international tourist arrivals, Turkey especially is facing substantial setbacks due to this widespread lack of travel. Banu Akan, executive brand manager of luxury Turkish boutique chain Maxx Royal Resorts, was first surprised at the extensive effects which have snowballed from this unexpected crisis since the start of 2020. “I suppose this is the first time in modern history that the whole world has to live in such a challenging time,” said Akan. ”I think that this situation has affected not just global tourism but the entire world and almost all industries as no one would have expected it at the beginning of this year.”
However, Maxx Royal Resorts quickly sprung to action to ensure health and safety remained the brand’s foremost priority as they continue to navigate this unprecedented situation along with the rest of us, encouraging collective stay at home practices while still supporting their local communities. “To make this situation less damaging for the entire world, we are in the first place taking care of our guests and our employees,” explained Akan. “As we always support local communities a lot, at this particular moment, the safety of our employees is our main priority so we are doing our best to operate our properties with the minimum employees in place and strictly following all the rules for safe social life.”
To ease the anxiety of guests with prebooked stays, the chain’s beachside retreats— the Maxx Royal Belek Golf Resort and Maxx Royal Kemer Resort — are offering flexible reservation policies including free cancellation until three days prior to check-in for the remainder of the year as well as 2021 reservations booked before this July 31. Once travel bans are lifted, the properties’ sprawling acreage and 250m²-650m² villas equipped with a private pool, butler, nanny, and chef will help guests accommodate proper social distancing protocols in utmost luxury. “We will make sure our guests feel safe enough without compromising their best holiday routine at Maxx Royal,” said Akan. “We are planning to be as we usually are: Providing the best service in luxury travel and making our guests feel like home and totally relaxed during their vacation at our resorts.”
The question on everyone’s lips though is how this pandemic will change the future of travel and whether people will continue to explore in the same way with the same mindset in a post-Covid-19 world. For Akan, the unquenchable sense of wanderlust that has defined the travelers of this generation is almost guaranteed to stay. “From my own life experience, whenever I was not able to travel for a couple of months, my desire to travel more kept getting even stronger so I think people will still be interested a lot in traveling,” shared Akan, adding that this extended lockdown may actually increase people’s thirst for adventure. “It takes a positive mind to not get bored during self-isolation, even if you work from home or you have still a lot of things to do in a household. The best way to celebrate and start a new world would be taking a vacation together, especially when it comes to families.”
Once the outbreak is finally over, the UNWTO estimates up to 10 months of recovery time for the tourism industry in particular. Nevertheless, an uptick in tourism may be the key to helping communities not only regain social normalcy and economic stability but also instill lasting sustainable practices for the global industry that will, in turn, revitalize other sectors — as long as the proper support systems are in place. “I am very confident about Turkey’s tourism approach in a post-pandemic world,” commented Akan. “The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is already taking precautions and solutions to make the industry safe for both industry and clients. I think being positive and supporting each other in the luxury industry is the best way to start this new phase.”
Although at the moment the immediate outlook for tourism may be bleak, Akan is hopeful the industry will enter its “best shape” yet after Covid-19 and this positive progression to a “new normal” will be “sooner than we all think.” When that happens, don’t be surprised to find cashed-in vacation days and sold-out seaside getaways because, as Akan puts it, “there is nothing better than enjoying some sun and sea after a long lockdown.”