You are probably - like most, watching the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID19) and the almost hysterical reaction that is being felt in markets across the world. And if you are concerned about your health and the chances of catching this virus, you have probably decided to avoid crowds and stay at home - as have many millions of travelers globally.
When this virus was first diagnosed in late December 2019, not many of us gave a thought to the economic impacts that some far-off threat posed to ourselves or our businesses, but as has become abundantly clear, human nature has escalated the fear to a global disaster for the tourism and business sectors generally. In the tourism sphere, tales of 'captured' cruise liners sitting idle in ports-of-call; major airlines grounding their fleets for lack of passengers and tourist destinations being shut-down are just some of the unprecedented steps taken to minimise the spread and impact of COVID 19. Domestically, while South Africa is still relatively far from the hot-spots of China, Italy and the United States, we are feeling the pinch as arrival numbers show marked declines; as international events and congresses are cancelled; as hotel occupancies plummet and as travelers simply stay away.
In the business sector, those reliant on product or ingredients from China have come to a standstill as exports and imports are stalled in a bid to minimise the spread of the virus, and global markets reel from unprecedented losses as stock markets face a collapse not seen since the heady days of 2008. And all of this is based on a simple word - FEAR!
The chances of the average person catching the virus remain slim, but the perception created by the media has whipped-up a global fear which has caused travel and business to 'take cover' until the immediate threat has passed. But where do business owners stand with regards correcting the misinformation and getting-on with business in general? Well, legally, the owner of any business is obliged to manage the risks associated with their business insofar as these impact their staff, visitors or guests, and managing this virus and how it impacts your clients cannot be simply shrugged-off to the State or other organisations.
Risk management includes taking reasonable and precautionary measures to mitigate any threats posed to guests and clients, and while initiatives such as environmental management programmes may seem irrelevant, they are an important part of any risk mitigation strategy in your business. Communicating to your guests and prospective guests that your business meets an internationally recognised standard of environmental performance could make the difference between success and failure right now.
Are you able to convince your clients that you have taken every possible measure to minimise possible contamination against COVID 19?