ConsultEcon Management & Economic Insight

 

March 10, 2021

Covid- where do we go from here…what history can tell us.
Written by: Thomas J. Martin, President, ConsultEcon, Inc.

Covid- where do we go from here….

The Covid crisis has resulted in significant impacts as many institutions have rethought their missions and operating profiles. The experiences of the last year have been stressful for all and for some traumatic on both a personal and a work basis. Many people are asking where do we go from here? The staff at ConsultEcon have been working with clients thru the Covid crisis and monitoring the trends and prospects for the visitor attraction and travel and tourism industries, which has been particularly hard hit during this last year. We are sharing our thoughts in a series of blogs, starting with What history can tell us, and then What has been the impact and what has changed and finally What are the prospects going forward-the emerging opportunities.

What can history tell us? Today, pandemics seem like rare historical occurrences, but pandemics have occurred on a regular basis throughout human history and have been reported on by many contemporary commentators as well as historians. These have included cholera, bubonic plague, smallpox and influenza. History is replete with examples of pandemics and their aftermath. Historians suggest that pandemics in Europe during the middle ages resulted in a realignment of labor markets and so supported the rise of a middle/merchant class that challenged the established feudal system. The Renaissance followed a major bubonic plague pandemic in Italy. A number of commentators have noted that one hundred years ago the end of the Spanish Flu epidemic and the first world war released pent up demand for entertainment and travel. The Roaring Twenties followed, ushering in what we think of as the modern age. In the 1920’s travel and tourism began an expansion as did the attractions and entertainment industry. The development of affordable automobiles, modern highways, airline travel, new entertainment options and movies and the accommodations industry were fed by this swell of public demand. While this expansion was interrupted by both the Great Depression and the Second World War; the travel and tourism and entertainment sectors of the economy reemerging thereafter and have grown rapidly both domestically and internationally in the latter half of the twentieth century and into the 21st century. The current pandemic brought these industries to an abrupt halt in 2020, with significant socio economic impact ramifications. In the next post we will review the impacts over the last year, before turning to the outlook going forward.