The current pandemic is still on the go and while the world’s focus is on finding solution for the disease along with finding ways to contain the spread, the real elephant in the room is to deal with the ripple on effect this has had on the global economy. It has affected almost all the industries in one form or another, something that almost all of the current global population are seeing something of this scale for the first time ever. One such industry that is affected massively is the travel sector. From airlines to tour operators to hotels and hospitality providers, it’s the biggest blow they’ve all had to endure in recent history. What does this mean to a common man like you and me?
Now I’m no travel expert nor a professional analyst in this area. This post is just my perspective, as a common man and a traveller, of how travel will be in the future; what impacts COVID-19 will have and what might change. This is purely based on my travelling history & experience, all the news information and the current global situation.
Firstly we all know how much of an impact COVID-19 has had on all the airline companies. With international borders closed off and with the flight demands being at its all time low, airline companies have had no choice other than “park” a vast majority of their fleet and to a large extent lay off or temporarily suspend a majority of their staff. With no substantial incoming revenues they are chopping off their expenses as much as possible so they can sustain for a while until the travel resumes again, if & when. Now this is possible for all airlines that have healthy cash reserves; the big giants like Qatar, Emirates, Lufthansa, American, Singapore airlines and so on etc.
But all the smaller low cost airlines don’t enjoy this luxury. Airlines like Air Asia, Tiger Air, Spirit, Ryan Air etc are all companies that operate like a daily wage labourer. They need cash flow on a regular basis to keep themselves operational. With no air travel demand and abundance of cancellations , these airlines are losing revenues big time. I won’t be surprised if some airlines, large & small, file for bankruptcy in the next two quarters or even in 2021.
What does all this mean to a common man like you and me? Well, in short, it would mean higher ticket prices from point A to point B. Why? The airlines first will have to recover all the lost revenue, make up for loss from suspended air routes and also build up their cash reserves. Additionally the possible bankruptcies will mean that there will be fewer operators for the same destinations, meaning a reduced competition and higher ticket prices. Not only these, but with most airports, who losing out on their revenues from airlines, will most likely increase their charges (flight landing & takeoff charges etc) which will in turn be passed on by the airlines to the travellers. All of this will invariably lead to higher ticket prices no doubt.
Next – The bigger change I see coming up more than the air tickets is the mandatory requirement of a COVID-19 vaccine for a lot of countries. If you are a traveller and if you’ve been the South America particularly the Amazon, most international airports stop to check if you have had a yellow fever vaccine or not. Some of them are really strict and don’t let you in to their country if you haven’t had one. Similarly if you have been to or planning to go to central African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Cameroon, Gabon, Burundi etc although not mandatory vaccines for Zika Virus, Malaria, Rabies are very very highly recommended.
Likewise, so far from what is known of COVID-19 the antibodies a human body produce against the disease, wear off within a couple of years meaning that those who have already contracted the virus & recovered, are susceptible to getting it again in a few years. COVID-19 is being touted as a seasonal disease, meaning it will exist in some form in either of the hemispheres throughout the year. Even the vaccine for it, if and when ready, doesn’t seem like a one-shot-for-life solution. It might be valid for a few years before the human body will need replenishment again at some stage.
From a travel perspective what I see coming is the need for a proof of COVID-19 vaccination to be shown when crossing international borders in a lot of countries. If you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination you know that a passport like certificate is provided and it is valid for life. Similarly I see requirements from countries for a COVID-19 vaccination certificate of sorts, so they know it is safe for them to let you enter their country. While it is unlikely, there might also be a need for quarantine/self isolation on arrival into a country, in the event you arrive from a COVID-19 risk geography.
And finally I see a massive regulation change coming up for the cruise travel sector. It is a big beast of a topic on its own and I’m yet to have a big cruise holiday to know the intricacies. But given how the cruise ships during the current pandemic are struggling to dock in countries because of their “anonymous” status, the legislations surrounding cruise ship operations are going to change big time.
If you want to know what I mean by anonymous state, look up for articles or videos on “Flags of Convenience” and you’ll understand more. In short it is a practice followed by cruise operators registering their ships in a different country, thereby following laws, rules & regulations of that country. This means when a cruise ship is in international waters, they fly the flag of the registered country making it an extension of that country. Well all I can see is that this will change in a big way in the years to come.
While so far all of the above feels a bit low, everything is not dull and gloomy. A positive I see coming out of this from a travel perspective is that the poorer countries might be a little more relaxed about the requirements for travel, for their economies rely on tourism and travel to a large extent. Geographies such as South & Central America, South Eastern Europe, plenty of African nations and parts of Southeast Asia, will likely see an increase in travel to their countries. This means that a vast majority of the world will travel to the less cliche destinations. Countries like Guatemala, Belize, Montenegro, Slovenia, Laos, Tunisia, Tanzania etc etc will gear up for more travellers in the coming years. This will be a blessing for people who love to travel and for others who haven’t heard of these places.
To summarise all of the above, things that are likely to change IMO are 1. Increased air ticket prices 2. Stringent health requirements for a vast majority of the countries 3. Increase in tourism to the lesser desired and poorer geographies and 4. Reduced cruise ship destinations and operators.
So there you are, once again I’m no travel expert nor an analyst in this area. This is just my perspective of how travel will be in the future, what impacts COVID-19 will have and what might change, based on what I know and what I read.
Open to comments and hearing your opinions too.