Coronavirus Crisis: Online Ad Giants Should Help Tourism in its Hour of Need

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Google and Facebook should carry forward advertising credit to help tour, activity and attraction operators, said Arival, the voice and global research authority on the sector. 

Exclusive, never-before-released research from Arival values the sector at US$254 billion in 2019. Arival estimates there are 1 million tour, activity and attraction operators worldwide. 

The two largest beneficiaries of the sector’s advertising spend should apply credit to future advertising to aid industry recovery, said Douglas Quinby CEO of Arival. “Google and Facebook have profited handsomely from the risk-taking of these enterprises over the past decade. Now it’s time for them to step up and pay it forward by crediting the accounts of these at-risk advertisers.”

An Arival survey of nearly 600 tour, activity and attraction operators worldwide, conducted March 9-13 2020, showed that the state of travel’s third-largest sector is dire:

  • 28% of operators surveyed are at risk of business failure within three months
  • 46% are at risk of failure of travel does not begin to recover within six months
  • 37% of total 2020 bookings have been cancelled
  • 73% of operators report a decline in 2020 bookings vs. 2019
  • The average decline is 52%

“These numbers show an industry in trauma – and it’s only going to get worse,” said Quinby.  

The tours, activities and attractions sector is comprised mostly of small businesses, micro-entrepreneurs and part-time operators. Most have started within the past five years. Arival’s research shows that:

  • 86% of operators generated less than US$250,000 in gross sales in 2019
  • 50% of tour operators and 45% of activity operators started their business between 2015 and 2019

By comparison, Google and Facebook are two of the largest companies in the world, generating combined revenues of US$184 billion in 2019.

“Arival calls on Google and Facebook to credit the accounts of all tour and activity operators, attractions, experience hosts, ground transfer providers, and all third-party resellers for advertising spend on their platforms for the period of January 15 to March 15 2020,” said Quinby.

Google and Facebook need to take the “long view” on this, said Quinby. “This would be a much needed step to help so many small operators get back on their feet when travel demand begins to return.”

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