Dr. Waleed Rashidi is currently a professor in the Department of Communications. He has a Ed.D from the University of La Verne and his research interests include looking into communications programs in higher education and investigating music as a form of mass communication. He is also a faculty advisor to Comm Week and the Entertainment and Tourism Club, as well as the editor in chief of Mean Street Magazine and an editor at the Inland Empire Weekly.
In April of 2020, the continuation of Coronavirus cases across the world have made a halt in the entertainment industry from theme parks, music festivals, films, TVs, and much more. However, it has been over a year since the pandemic began and new solutions have risen to open up places. Vaccines are now available to people all over the world. This advantage has led entertainment industries to open up a majority of places once again with CDC and WHO guidelines, yet things will not go back the way they used to as more precautions will be held for the safety of everyone. Nonetheless, every live performing artist such as huge celebrities to local entertainers have held aside their performances due to the fact they couldn’t perform live anywhere. Throughout the pandemic, the entertainment and tourism industry has had to adapt in many ways. We interviewed professor Waleed Rashidi from California State University of Fullerton, about how COVID-19 has affected this industry now and for the future. Rashidi emphasizes on the entertainment and tourism industry and teaches about it in his COMM 346 class.
COVID-19’s Effects on the Entertainment and Tourism Industry
Throughout the pandemic, the entertainment and tourism industry has had to adapt in many ways. We interviewed professor Waleed Rashidi from California State University of Fullerton, about how COVID-19 has affected this industry now and for the future. Rashidi emphasizes on the entertainment and tourism industry while teaching about it in his COMM 346 class. He was the editor in chief of Mean Street Magazine and an editor at the Inland Empire Weekly, so he has had many opinions and predictions about this topic. When asked about how the entertainment and tourism industry has been affected by COVID-19, Professor Rashidi believes that there have been several impacts across the industry. Especially many cancellations to live entertainments such as music and theatre productions, major world tours, and national tours had to be cancelled as well. Then there are live theaters such as stage productions that had to be rescheduled, later on being cancelled. It’s unfortunate that live entertainment sectors couldn’t continue until future notice. Rashidi states that every live performer was a hit no matter if you are a big shot or just a local entertainer. They all had to make a hold on that side of the situation, while on the tourism side, people had plans to go on summer vacation and had to cancel plans. Airlines were faced with major cancellations as well as hotels. It affected other tourism adjacent industries such as transportation, rental cars, and restaurants like indoor dining without restrictions. Big problems there.
Adaptation and Taking Things Digital
As the world came to a halt, and socialization seemed impossible, Rashidi said he was most impressed by the artist’s adaptability and ability to maintain attention of their fan base. Many artists took to streaming services such as Twitch or online live shows to engage with their audience. When asked if he believed in-person events in the future will still have a high attendance rate, Professor Rashidi thinks that it’s difficult at this stage to get an idea, but people will definitely be more cautious in larger settings. Public perceptions will change this year and the following years. It may be connected to the distribution of the vaccine as well. Some artists are still actually booking events however, they throw in a disclaimer acknowledgement about how it can get cancelled or postponed due to the circumstances we are in right now. They are being mindful.
Will Entertainment and Tourism Ever be the Same?
Professor Rashidi cannot give any concrete answers as to whether things such as traveling and concerts will ever be the same, because he says that is up to the CDC guidelines. However, he does believe since online entertainment was perceived really well, that it will definitely continue in the future. He was and is still very impressed by artists being able to maintain a connection with their fanbase during this time by letting the fans into the artists lives more virtually. An example he gave was instead of going on tour, these artists would record. They go forward with their creativity to show and progress without a connection in person, yet recordings have been a convenient way to connect with their fans virtually. Whether doing live concerts or recording albums, whatever it is, these artists will make it happen. When asked to comment in regards to the reopening of California theme parks and sporting events as highlighted by the new COVID guidelines based on the vaccinations, Rashidi believes that theme parks and sporting events have been heavily affected, but there is a comfort level with these companies to feel like they can start to reopen and have a normal segment of their customer base that is willing to come back too. There is this kind of mutual comfort they feel that they have enough customers to come to their particular venue whether it’s a theme park or a stadium. There is also a large number of customer base that are willing to come back. At the same time, we still have to be very careful, things can always change very quickly. Industries know it’s still a dynamic situation and things can change rapidly. Everyone will be ready when it comes to making those hard decisions once again.
Since the World Health Organization categorized COVID-19 as a global pandemic, the entertainment and tourism industry felt its effects. Starting with the newest James Bond movie getting postponed, Hollywood would never be the same. Just a few short weeks after the United States declared lockdown, all movies set to be realized got permanently postponed and most shows including ones that were in progress like “Euphoria” halted production. The entertainment industry came to a full stop while nobody knew what the outcome of the pandemic would be like. Individual actors were affected as well, such as Tom Hanks and Idris Elba who got infected with COVID-19. Live shows such as Broadway musicals and concerts stopped occurring and seem impossible to be held normally again. For the time being, streaming has become the reactionary answer to consumer’s entertainment needs. Overall, this video shows the severity of the pandemic and how the future of the entertainment industry will have to follow strict guidelines to keep everyone safe while working or enjoying entertainment.