Some things will probably never be the same again when the coronavirus pandemic is over. Among those things or industries that will be hugely transformed in the immediate aftermath of the global outbreak is travel or tourism.
What changes could the pandemic bring about in how people travel when it is all over? Continue reading to find out some of those.
Economic Effects of the Coronavirus on the Travel Industry
Travel is one of a few industries that measures related to curtailing the spread of the COVID-19 virus have had the most profound effects. Everything has ground to almost a complete halt, resulting in huge revenue losses and massive job cuts.
Suddenly, it looks like things might never be the same again in the industry. One will not be wrong to say it would take years to return to a situation close to that obtainable only a few months ago.
Companies in an industry that relies on the movement of people have been counting their losses since the global outbreak began. Roger Dow, the U.S. Travel Association president, said the effect of the coronavirus on travel is “six or seven times greater than the 9/11 attacks,” as reported by National Geographic.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) forecasts the global industry will lose $2.1 trillion in revenue if the pandemic persists for several more months.
The travel and trade group, which represents global private sector companies, also predicts 75 million job losses. That would translate to up to one million job losses in the travel industry per day.
Jobs in the American market are among the most threatened. The U.S. Travel Association predicts 4.6 million job losses out of 15.8 million through May in the $2.6 trillion local industry. Reports suggest that these losses are already having a huge effect on the number of initial jobless claims.
Effects of the coronavirus on travel explain the sudden spike in unemployment in some states, such as Nevada.
British Airways has revealed plans to lay off some 36,000 of those on its payroll.
The WTTC is currently calling on governments around the world to provide aid to companies in the travel industry. This, it argues, would help to prevent undesirable effects that job losses can have on the families of employees.
Changes the Coronavirus Pandemic Could Bring in the Travel Industry
Experiences related to the current pandemic show that things will no longer be done the same way in the travel industry – at least, for the foreseeable future. We discuss below some of the changes or things that could happen when the pandemic eases.
Health screenings at points of entry and improved hygiene practices
Before COVID-19, perhaps, nothing in recent memory comes close to the 9/11 attacks in prompting world governments to start doing things a bit differently. Security screenings at points of entry, such as airports, improved drastically following the attacks.
With what we have seen of COVID-19, airports around the world are going to step up health screenings. We can expect that officials will start to screen for the coronavirus and possibly other infectious diseases.
Countries might start requesting for proof of being COVID-19 negative. Issuance of immunity passports has been suggested.
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Some airlines have started carrying out rapid coronavirus tests on blood from finger pricks. Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are among those in the U.S. that now require flight attendants and passengers to put on face masks.
Many travel companies will improve their hygiene practices to show customers that they take their health seriously. Also, people wiping down airplane seats may no longer appear panicky as they might have seemed to others previously.
Preference for local travel
Experiences of the coronavirus outbreak look to lead to more people preferring to travel locally. At least, this will more likely be the case immediately the pandemic ends. People will prefer to travel more within their countries and regions.
It’s evident how the pandemic was helped by travel from one country to another.
Another factor in the greater preference for local travel is cost. This type of travel is cheaper. With a massive recession expected from the pandemic, people will want to save more money.
Traveling more for business
Travelers will embark on more important and necessary trips. Tourism is, for the most part, a luxury that many people can afford to avoid. Concern over contracting the coronavirus will also keep more tourists at home.
The group of travelers that would start going on trips first is business people. These will typically have reasons strong enough to dare international travel earlier.
Less business for travel agencies
The anticipated economic crunch will reduce opportunities for online travel agencies or booking websites. These businesses serve as a go-between for travelers. They help to simplify the travel process, bringing all information in one place and taking care of different bookings.
People may start reducing reliance on these third-party booking websites in their efforts to save money. For instance, they might do this to side-step costs and hassle involved when trying to cancel bookings made through these services. The pandemic could make dealing directly with a provider more preferable.
Increased demand for better travel insurance
We can expect COVID-19 to bring about some changes in relation to travel insurance. More people will be looking for greater protection for things such as cancellations.
The pandemic has shown that most policies do not provide any or sufficient protection for events of this nature. Existent travel insurance policies, including independent ones, were not of much help to people who wanted to jettison their travel plans as a result of the outbreak. People will, therefore, demand for more protection when traveling.
There should be a greater preference for policies that allow travelers to cancel their travel plans for any reason. This is despite such coverage being more expensive than the regular policy.
Already, the demand for travel insurance has surged due to the pandemic. InsureMyTrip says policy sales since January has increased by 200 percent.
Cruise industry decline
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a disaster for the cruise industry. Images of cruise ships “stranded” at sea while countries won’t allow them to dock due to the fear of an outbreak would cause many people to think twice before stepping onto one in the future.
Another thing that doesn’t help the fortune of this industry is its typical client. In many cases, persons who go on cruises are older people, a group that is more susceptible to outbreaks. We can expect these people to want to protect their health more.
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A release by the Center for Disease Control in March further weakened the prospect of the industry. In it, the center exposed why people are more at risk of the coronavirus on cruise ships, reports National Geographic.
Shares of leading cruise travel companies have shed up to about 70 percent of their values and further declines are expected. Reports show that companies in the industry had lost about $750 million as of April.
The travel industry will take years to recover. But the cruise market will face an even tougher challenge trying to bounce back.
Staying Safe While Traveling
It is not entirely certain at the moment whether it will be 100% safe to travel immediately when this pandemic ends. One can expect that it will take some time, maybe a long one, before things return anything close to how they used to be.
Below are some steps to take to travel safely now, if possible, and when the outbreak eases. They are mostly measures that experts currently advice for staying safe from the coronavirus.
Consider your health status – It is probably now more critical than ever to take into account the state of your health before embarking on any trip. You should first speak with your doctor, especially if you are elderly or have a known medical condition.
Make handwashing a part of you – The COVID-19outbreak has made it necessary for people to wash their hands more often than they used to. This will need to continue for the nearest future when you travel, particularly after using public transport or being to a public place. You should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Carry a sanitizer – There are likely to be those times when you won’t have immediate access to soap and water or don’t find them convenient. You can use a hand sanitizer with 60 percent or more alcohol content at such times. It will help to have one handy.
Clean surfaces or objects that are touched or used frequently – It will not be a bad idea to wipe doorknobs, remote controls, tabletops, and other objects that people tend to use regularly. Use a disinfectant wipe or spray to clean away germs that might remain on such things where you lodge.
Maintain your distance – It will be somewhat unwise to do away with social distancing immediately the pandemic appears to end. One thing that is almost entirely certain is that the virus will not vanish suddenly. Therefore, you will need to keep maintaining your distance for some time when traveling. This is above all vital when you notice someone that appears sick sneezing or coughing near you.
Boosting Your Body’s Defense
Your immune system is the garrison for your body. It defends you against foreign agents that can enter your body to cause sickness.
The elderly, who tend to have tired immune systems, and people with conditions that weaken immunity die more from the coronavirus. This highlights further the importance of a healthy immune system.
To enhance your body’s defense whether you’re traveling or not, here are some steps to take:
- Keep a healthy diet featuring high amounts of natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables
- Avoid alcohol or drink moderately
- Get enough sleep every night (about seven to nine hours)
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight
- Pay attention to your stress levels to manage properly
- Quit smoking
There is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus. However, scientists are hard at work to try and come up with some.
The COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) is similar to the viruses responsible for the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SERS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) years ago. There was not much interest in developing vaccines against those coronaviruses. They didn’t affect as many people as the current one and disappeared rather quickly. The story is different this time.
There are pieces of promising evidence that effective vaccines may soon become available. For instance, many patients have been observed to develop responses that promote immunological memory.
Scientists say the virus is curable. This belief follows the observation that it doesn’t set its genome in that of humans to replicate as viruses such as HIV do.
For now, you can just make sure you take all necessary vaccines available, including for the common cold, when traveling.
How hard will the coronavirus hit the travel industry? (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/2020/04/how-coronavirus-is-impacting-the-travel-industry/)
How the Coronavirus Pandemic Will Change the Way We Travel | Architectural Digest (https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/how-covid-19-will-change-travel)
How to boost your immune system – Harvard Health (https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system)