Six months ago, no-one would have imagined that mankind would be faced with a crisis of the size of COVID 19 in our lifetime, but here we are facing an economic, health and humanitarian crisis last seen during the Spanish Flu in the early 1920's. Each day, we learn with an almost numbing awareness of higher infection numbers and sadly, a death-toll normally associated with armed conflict. One thing is now abundantly clear, the world will be a very different place after this unimaginable virus has been defeated.
But, in the midst of all of this angst, fear and death there is one thing each one of us needs to hang on to with every ounce of strength that mankind can collectively produce. That's our humanity to one another. In times of crisis, its very easy to imagine that we alone face a very bleak future, forgetting that there are others less fortunate that will face even worse outcomes as a result of what we do now.
The travel, restaurant, hospitality and events industries globally have been dealt perhaps one of the most damaging blows as worldwide travel grinds to a halt. Countries have closed their borders in an effort to contain the virus, while others have instituted full-blown lock-downs to keep locals in their homes and away from the spread of the virus. And while most businesses will eventually and undoubtedly feel the impacts of this crisis on their bottom lines, the travel, restaurant, hospitality and events sectors are like the proverbial canaries in the mine-shaft when it comes to crises of this nature. Businesses in these sectors across the world have closed in an effort to save what little reserves they have, while the events sector has been decimated by cancelled events and social-distancing rules. The airline sector will probably never be the same after the crisis, and some even predict that tourism has been set-back by as much as ten years growth by COVID 19.
But at the same time, history has shown that it is these industries and sectors that rebound fastest once the dangers have passed. We will come through this virus hopefully stronger and more resilient than we have been and while larger businesses can survive the coming few months, there are those that will have simply disappeared because they did not have the resources or safety-nets enjoyed by larger companies. It is these small. micro, medium and emerging service providers and businesses that need our help right now. So many larger companies have simply closed and have adopted a survival mode that includes not paying their creditors. This is having a massive impact on the SMME and informal sector globally, and it raises an ethical question as to how far we should go to ensure our own survival. Is it acceptable to contribute to the demise of smaller suppliers and businesses by withholding payments until the situation improves, or should we honour agreements and undertakings in spite of this surreal situation?
When we see someone floundering in stormy water, do we simply walk on by and avoid the water - or do we reach down and offer help? These are the questions that will define our world tomorrow. Not whether we have survived. Not whether we are financially sound. not even whether we have managed to recover our lost business. But how we chose to stand-by those that relied on our business for survival and on our payment of their outstanding invoices will define us as human beings.
There is no doubt that this virus will pass and that the sun will shine again in the morning. The question we need to ask ourselves is what kind of world would like to live in when it does?