Inevitably, polls keep score in COVID-19 politics
Inevitably, polls keep score in COVID-19 politics
31 AUGUST 2020 7:00 AM

Hoteliers have come together to find creative solutions to fight COVID-19 and benefit the industry as a whole. If only world leaders would do the same.

Apart from hundreds of thousands of people dying from COVID-19, the saddest aspect for me in the entire six months of the coronavirus pandemic is watching the politicians keep score vis-à-vis one another.

I am not always naïve—in this scenario, I would not expect politicians to act any differently. Naïve? No. Cynical? Yes, sadly, too.

A great deal of partnership and collaboration has occurred through the pandemic, and that is heartening. The sharing of hotel industry best practices and the use of hotels as hospitals and shelters for asylum seekers, the homeless and frontline staff also has been encouraging to see.

To the best of my knowledge, hoteliers have not kept score with one another as to which brand or company has done more in this respect than others.

Hoteliers have looked for where they can help, and also, I should add, help their own revenue streams.

I have often remarked that the hotel industry is unique in that there regularly are conferences (now virtual ones) where CEOs and other C-suite executives debate, discuss and analyze their own washing in public on stages with their direct peers.

Politicians are never so mature.

The World Health Organization published a warning to try and stop our elected officials racking up political points from the COVID-19 crisis and acting in an isolationist manner in connection with the potential, stratospheric cash mountain undoubtedly going to whatever country unveils and delivers the first vaccine.

Industry requires clarity, and that must start with national strategy and levelheadedness.

A small problem might require that on a domestic basis, but COVID-19 long ago moved from being solely a national headache.

Business groups and lobbyists I hope have been telling the ear of government that such isolationism sacrifices jobs, revenue and futures.

Even the extremely spotty nature of keeping track of positive cases, hospital cases, infection rates and deaths smacks of the ugly side of nationalism.

To understand a problem we need data. We here at STR know that extremely well. Hoteliers do, too, but everyone understands that data is worthless if it is not trusted and transparent.

On 19 August, the WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned countries from exercising what he termed “supply nationalism,” but maybe it is naïveté to think politicians will not take the shortest route to their voting bases.

Yes, a country’s politicians should help those in their countries, but there really is no difference between hotel firms with global portfolios collaborating for the benefit of the entire industry and politicians and scientists from doing the same for the benefit of all humanity.

Ghebreyesus said “sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country’s national interest. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”

No one will be 100% safe to travel until everyone is safe from this particular virus. Viruses mutate, which is why being safe is not just the case of being vaccinated.

Maybe political and nationalist mudslinging on COVID-19 will be more palatable once a vaccine is inside us all, merely because the relief will be so palpable it will drown out the one-upmanship coming from our leaders.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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