Before the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism was booming, both nationally and internationally.
“The Travel & Tourism sector experienced 3.5% growth in 2019,” wrote the World Travel and Tourism Council in early 2020, “outpacing the global economy growth of 2.5% for the ninth consecutive year. Over the past five years, one in four new jobs were created by the sector, making Travel & Tourism the best partner for governments to generate employment.”
All of this changed with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the United States alone, decreases in travel since the beginning of the pandemic in March resulted in more than $297 billion in losses. In fact, the U.S. Travel Association estimated that there would be $505 billion in losses for the travel industry through the end of 2020. The industry itself is not expected to recover until 2024.
These sobering numbers make it even more crucial for state and local governments to retain and carefully vet the health of the tourist traffic they are seeing. Luckily, healthcare technology, like GetWell Loop, has a role to play in this arena.
Protecting residents in a pandemic
One great example of this usage is the state of Maine. An estimated 37 million tourists visit Maine each year, supporting nearly 110,000 jobs. However, the state has maintained one of the lowest counts of COVID-19 cases throughout the pandemic. Some of the many reasons for this include vigilance, careful monitoring, and the use of technology to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on residents and visitors to the state.
Back in May 2020, Maine professional network PledgetoProtectME.org partnered with GetWellNetwork to help residents monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. By utilizing the GetWell Loop Self-Monitoring Loop, Maine residents were able to self-monitor and record their daily health via smartphone, while also receiving the latest COVID-19 news and prevention best practices updated from sources like WHO and CDC. In addition, users received customized information around the COVID-19 pandemic, and action steps to take if infected with the novel coronavirus.
Embracing tourism during a time of uncertainty
The state recently announced a further partnership to use GetWell Loop to keep both residents and visitors safe during the winter tourism season. Under this partnership, visitors to the state who are unable to certify compliance with the state’s policy to produce either a negative COVID-19 test or undergo a 14-day quarantine prior to visiting will now be directed to enroll in GetWellNetwork’s COVID-19 Self-Monitoring Loop via GetWell Loop.
Much like the initial partnership with the Maine health community, this latest iteration will have residents — and visitors to Maine — using the Self-Monitoring Loop to easily self-monitor and record their health symptoms via smartphone. They will also receive daily prompts to quickly update their health status in the tool.
The bottom line
More than 275,000 individuals at healthcare organizations across the country have already used GetWellNetwork’s COVID-19 Digital Care Plans. Expanding this technology to a tourism and state government sphere makes sense, in order to help state visitors, like those to Maine, remain healthy and protect residents of the state at the same time.
In the case of tourism, the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true. With tourism dollars on the decline, it remains more important than ever for state governments to encourage visitors to the state while also ensuring that everyone involved remains safe and protected.
Self-monitoring with technological tools frees up care teams, ensures widespread observation of symptoms, and helps every resident and tourist do their part to make their visit a safe one. And in the era of a global pandemic, that’s more important than ever for tourists, employers, public health officials, and government officials everywhere.