Let’s be honest, most of us reading this had travel plans during this summer, be it domestic or international. With the ongoing pandemic, all of our travel plans have now, been cancelled! People have been under lockdown for the past 4-5 months. I am a frequent traveler and for me to be locked into my home and not flying is dreadful. For months, we have been witnessing news about it in various forums like TV news and radios. Social Media has been flooded with statistics regarding the number of death tolls. Somewhere in our brains, this does cause some psychological problems.
The tourism industry is huge. Every year, international trips cost around $1.6 trillion. To put that into perspective, the amount is larger than the whole of Spain’s GDP, or at least this was the case before the pandemic. There are a lot of countries which solely depend on the tourism industry as the major source for their income. But, due to the pandemic many have lost their means of income. In April 2020, only 31 million passengers traveled all across the globe. This sort of numbers were last seen in the early 1970’s. So, will this pandemic take us back in time?
London’s busiest airport, Heathrow alone saw only 200,000 people in the month of April. China on the other hand have seen a dip of only 20% in passenger level. Comparing this, USA has suffered up to 55%, and most of the Europe has suffered to 80% loss in passenger travel during the first 6 months of 2020.
There is this one question which still remains in our mind. When will travelling recover? Well, nobody knows when will travelling recover. But, it is safe to say that travelling is going to be more tedious than before. Immigration and Security checks in an airport will take much longer than usual. The current situation of adoption of social distancing will make it socially unacceptable for people to travel with cold or any form of symptoms. Just imagine the looks on the people when anybody would sneeze in the airport or in an aircraft.
Most of us know that in an air journey, any liquid above 100 ml gets confiscated at the security check. Well I think when we start flying again, we might just be able to carry more than 100 ml liquids, especially in the long haul flights. Obviously, people are going to be more cautious about flying. More and more people are going to be using face masks and hand sanitizers.
You see, the causes of the pandemic are numerous. Strict lockdown measures, health care systems, weather, “luck”, all of these factors are at work to prevent the spread. This would mean that some countries would open its skies and airports much before than others. This would make pricing of routes further difficult for the passengers and the airlines. And with lesser seats and higher price, there is going to be huge competition for a ticket. Just imagine the price for a window seat now!
What I believe now could happen is the rise in the domestic travelling. You see, with closure of airports and international routes, many travelers would be looking forward to book their holiday destinations within their country, possibly closer to their home towns. I believe within 18-20 months the domestic tourism will recover. As for the international tourism, only time can lead the way.
The Covid-19 Pandemic will dramatically affect the way we travel. But rather than driving economic growth, as the tourism industry did in the past, new restrictions could affect globalization! Inequality and unemployment could take new heights. Only with proper negotiations and patience, the world would see a better day.
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