The excitement of planning a trip and buying tickets to a bucket-list destination.
The feeling of hopping on a plane on your way to visit a country for the first time. Do you miss that? Me too.
But not all hope is lost. As COVID-19 cases start to decrease, countries are easing movement restrictions and borders will start to re-open soon. But while there is still no cure for coronavirus, what can we expect of the travel industry in the months to come?
We will be able to travel, but it will be completely different to what we are used to.
We will no longer have access to “easy” or “cheap” travel. Like back in the day, travel will once again be considered a luxury. The reason behind this relates not only to pricing, but also to convenience and accessibility reasons.
Did you know that, right now, close to 90% of the world’s population lives in countries with travel restrictions? For the foreseeable future, we will all be at mercy of government travel regulations in the country we live in and the countries we want to visit. This refers to restrictions related to who can come in and out of the country as well as quarantine rules or other legal requirements necessary for travel; including additional difficulties to obtain travel or entry visas.
What can we expect of traveling by plane?
The hard stop in travel in the last couple of months has severely affected airline companies. Many of them are going bust, which means that there will be less players in the market and prices will be higher due to less competition and supply.
In the meantime, airlines are exploring different solutions to lower the risks of infection while travelling. Some of them include leaving a seat in between passengers, adding a glass or plastic panel in between seats, carrying out disinfection programs between flights, and so on… But regardless of the measures they decide on, one thing is for sure – They will only increase costs for the company, which will also mean an increase in flight tickets for customers down the line.
In addition to the above, experts predict that small airports might not survive the crisis as they rely on low-cost airlines to run busy and ongoing flights. This, again, increases pricing for airlines to operate through bigger and more expensive airports.
Airports will also need to apply new measures to ensure that infected people don’t travel and that there is low risk of spreading the virus further while at their terminals. Temperature checks and testing facilities at airports are already in place at multiple airports worldwide.
In the last couple of years, we had already seen how automation at airports was developing, with machines processing check-in, boarding and even passport controls. Now more than ever, minimising human contact is essential and with that, automation will become the new norm.
Other travel sectors affected by the crisis
Unfortunately, airlines and airports are not the only ones in the travel industry being affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Many other companies are also being forced to close or let go of a big part of their workforce. Some of these are:
• Cruises: With this type of travel involving closed and sharing spaces, we know that cruises won’t be operating for a long while.
• Resorts and venues: It has been made clear that “super-spreaders” (meaning big venues with high contagious risk) won’t be allowed to operate anytime soon. This will greatly affect hotel resorts, clubs, festivals and more. It is unclear what the future holds for islands like Ibiza who rely on these type of events and tourism.
• Airbnb, hostels and apartment sharing: Anything involving sharing spaces with strangers will be affected for a long time. Not only there will be strict rules for these businesses to operate (if they can, at all) but also consumers will be hesitant to book these types of accommodation.
A shift in travel habits
Does that mean that people won’t travel at all? No. After being in lockdown for so long, people can’t wait to get out and explore – just in a different and safer way.
Less, but more meaningful trips will dominate; because it won’t be easy or cheap to travel. We expect families to plan about one big trip, instead of going to multiple places throughout the year.
All these travel limitations will force us to re-think where we want to go and why. We won’t be hoping on a flight just for the sake of it. We will TRAVEL WITH PURPOSE.
Travellers will also be looking for new services when they book a trip. Ensuring that the airlines they travel with and the accommodation they stay at comply with thorough hygiene and cleaning standards will be essential.
This summer, road trips and local or national tourism will be the favoured option. Travel agencies are already seeing an increase in consumers looking at villas and countryside escapes, while not many are seeking international holidays. Consumers will look at vacation options that allow them to continue practicing social distancing from strangers. Places that offer privacy and low infection risk will win this season.
But hey, not all hope is lost. While all of this is happening, wildlife is booming.
There’s already been dolphin sightings in Venice, flamingos flocking to Mumbai and global carbon emissions are down by 17%.
The earth is rewarding us and beautiful landscapes await. Pleasures await.
Hopefully, this crisis teaches us to not take for granted our opportunities to see the world and value travel. When the earth is ready, we will be able to fly high again and seek out for adventures in our beautiful planet.