The outbreak of COVID-19 has devastated lives around the world, with very few remote countries being the only ones able to escape its grip. As the rest of us battle with the largest pandemic of our generation, we’ve had to adapt our lives accordingly.
From implementing stringent social distancing and hygiene rules in an effort to curb the spread, all the way to closing large parts of the economy and not mixing with anyone outside of our household; COVID-19 has changed our lives in more ways than one, and it’s inevitable that it will have a lasting impact for years to come.
The travel industry has been extremely hard hit by this, and like many things, there will undoubtedly be permanent changes to the way we travel, but what might those changes be?
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that what we thought passed as ‘clean’ before definitely wouldn’t pass as ‘clean’ now. Airports are high traffic areas that see people from all corners of the globe mix in one area. It’s no secret that germs run rife in airports and train stations, but now we’re all so hyper-aware of them and the risks, it’s likely that sanitisation stations and the increased presence of cleaners are here to stay. If nothing else, your fellow passengers will probably have their hand sanitiser at the ready regardless.
We’ve seen how quickly things can change which might well influence lots of travellers to stay closer to home should the worst happen. This could mean lots more short-haul flights, shorter cruises and an increase in holidaying at home.
Making Dreams a Reality
Whilst most people will likely stay close by for their holidays, there’s bound to a rise in the amount of people booking that once-in-a-lifetime trip they’ve spent years dreaming of. It’s now starkly apparent that life can be snatched away and changed in an instant, so although the majority of people will stay close to home most of the time, there will be less trepidation and more of a “you only live once” attitude when it comes to booking the holiday of dreams.
You’d be hard pushed to find a person who actually enjoyed being crammed into economy with strangers all around, so the introduction of social distancing is a welcome change. We know that it’s not economical for airlines and trains to operate on low capacity, but it’s difficult to imagine passengers willingly return the sardine way of travelling any time soon.
We can all understand the draws of places like the Eiffel Tower, St Mark’s Square, the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon, but these are all tourist traps that accommodate thousands of people every day. In a time when personal space is our most valued asset, it’s likely that lots of travellers will ditch high profile locations and go in search of quieter, more niche spots that are generally off the tourist radar.
If you’re someone who’s used to travelling frequently as part of your work, that could be a thing of the past. When the world as we knew it came to a halt, the internet was our saving grace and allowed us to continue with our lives – but virtually. It’s was the only choice we had at the time and for many, it’s become second nature.
With lots of businesses realising working in an office isn’t essential to their success and therefore choosing to adopt working from home permanently, it’s likely that the need for travelling abroad on business trips will also become more redundant. Not only that, the way in which the environment recovered for a brief moment at the height of the pandemic has made everyone more aware of their carbon footprint, especially when it comes to travel.
Whilst COVID-19 has halted travel on the whole and had a devastating impact on the industry, there’s no doubt it will recover soon, and some of the changes the virus has brought about might even make travel a more sustainable and enjoyable experience moving forward.