Businesses worldwide are struggling under the strain as economic activity has come to a standstill. Some are more affected than others, with the travel and tourism industry particularly hard hit. The United Nations predicts that tourism worldwide will reduce by 60-80% in 2020. So what of those entrepreneurs who make a livelihood of traveling to places?
Social media earnings of some influencers have reduced by 60 to 70% due to COVID-19. To understand the lockdown’s emotional, physical and economic impact, we spoke with some travel influencers who find themselves at home like the rest of us.
Shenaz Treasury, Mumbai
I’m a really energetic person and being just cooped up in one place has been difficult. I started a yoga class on Zoom, but not going outdoors kills me. I love just walking and meeting new people and not being able to do that has been the most challenging aspect.
I’ve been home alone for two months now and it’s difficult, especially when you’re used to meeting new people all the time, and now I’m anxious about even meeting my parents, knowing that just meeting them I could be asymptomatic and transmit it to them.
I’m working harder than I used to actually because there’s all the housework and continuously making content. I had planned to expand my business and hired someone to manage my YouTube, but I had to let them go just after a month. Sponsorships have reduced by 70-80%. That’s scary.
But my channel, surprisingly, is getting more views now as I’m making dating videos. They’re about what men need to learn from a woman’s perspective. So I have videos such as qualities women find attractive. Men need help. There’s a reason that girl didn’t call you back. I get a lot of DMs still saying just, “Hey babe” or “What’s up?” They don’t put any effort in asking a question or try to be interesting. Sometimes they just keep talking about all the other women in their lives. That’s not something you do! I just want men to be better. I love love.
Other videos I’ve started doing are about stories from my travel experiences, like the time I had a gold ice cream in Dubai which cost ₹50,000 ($663 USD). All these are actually doing better than my travel videos.
I’m very optimistic as a person. When the lockdowns lift, I just want to go out and take a long walk.
Adam Groffman, New York City
I’ve been in lockdown since March 13. Before the lockdown, I visited Quebec, Australia, and the Florida Keys in one month. Now I wake up early, make breakfast, coffee, listen to a podcast, and then try to write. Writing is hard at the moment, but I keep trying. I’m just not motivated to write about travel when I know it’s unlikely to ever be the same again.
I’ve lost a few regular writing gigs — freelance budgets for most publications are frozen, and people just don’t want travel essays or travel guides right now. My blog, which is my main source of income, has been hit pretty hard too because website traffic has dropped significantly. I also work a lot with destinations to promote tourism through sponsored content on my Instagram and through written blog posts, but that’s all dried up as well and it’s been hard to pitch for future projects not knowing when and if people will start traveling again.
I was lucky to be able to apply for unemployment insurance here in New York though I’m still waiting for it to be processed. I know the lockdown is the right thing and 100% support it; I just wish there was more support for those of us affected everywhere around the world.
I’ve found documenting my time and experiences, through those blog posts and in my own private journal, has helped me to deal with the stress and anxiety of all of this.
Ankita Kumar, 29, Bengaluru
I travel for eight months in a year and have been doing this for five years. But now I’ve been quarantined with my parents for two months. Initially I was really frustrated, I felt lost. I just didn’t know how to deal with such a sudden change in my life.
I’m getting used to it now and kind of enjoying it. I started writing a lot more, and what helped me the most was the realization that I can still make content without traveling to keep my audiences engaged.
My Instagram now is a mix of some videos about the current situation, like what you would do if you had one day before the lockdown, and some older pictures. But that’s been tough. Lots of my travel projects got cancelled. Even products can’t reach me with the travel restrictions. Some branded campaigns are happening, but everything major is on hold until the lockdowns end.
After the lockdown I still want to wait for a bit before traveling. I don’t want to put the locals at risk. I don’t want that [weighing] on my conscience.
Also read: COVID-19: Inside the Life of Indian Teachers