How travel will unravel post the COVID-19 era
The COVID-19 pandemic will never be thought of as a good period for most, but for the travel industry, it has been nothing short of disastrous. This has been stated many times already though and is becoming tiresome.
It certainly is the biggest challenge that ours – and quite a few other industries have had to face, but it should be seen as nothing more than that – a challenging phase. Without a doubt, it will pass but our way of life will change – so we need to acquire the skills to work with it. The interesting question, however, is how travel will unravel post the COVID-19 era?
Slowly and cautiously
Based on good authority and many interesting articles on the subject compiled by those in the know, it will be like the peeling of the layers of an onion. The rough outer edges will very gradually be phased out, not unlike our wholly South African modus operandi of phasing society back into normal life.
Local travel will open up first, and then international travel will be phased in with repatriations, emergency travel and then business travel permitted – pretty much in that order.
Focus on health and security
At least initially, but very possibly becoming the norm, a massive emphasis will be placed on the health and security of passengers, crews, and the hospitality industry in general. International cross border travel will have Governments scrutinising COVID-19 compliance in the same light as illegal immigration and terrorism.
This will probably mean more paperwork, testing and all kinds of compliances that Travel Advisors may be called upon to be aware of and ensure their clients are covered for before travel.
It’s business first
Despite struggling tourist industries, for leisure travellers, local travel and possibly travel to neighbouring countries (mostly confined to land travel) will be the only sort of travel allowed for some time. Experts are predicting that international leisure travel will only happen after 2020 – unless a vaccine is found.
It is believed that business will be seen as a priority of international travel, and urgent business may even be a requirement at first. What will most likely be the case is that essential business, like technicians required to operate machinery or those involved with important international programs, will initially have a preference.
The numbers are bound to be less though as those seen to be able to operate remotely will not be permitted. These and many other things will be scrutinised before a business trip can be undertaken and Travel Professionals will play a key role in assisting with the myriad of boxes to be ticked and red tape that may be required.
According to reliable sources, these could extend to possible ‘immunity’ certificates for those who may have tested positively for COVID-19 antibodies, and visas will probably become the norm again as it will take some time for international health standards to be established.
The importance of the Travel Professional’s role
Some of these things may be conjecture, and some will obviously come to pass, but regardless of exactly how it rolls out, it is an unequivocal fact is that we as Travel Professionals will probably be more important than ever before.
The human assistance of the Travel Professional, through the various medical and visa protocols, will become key to any travel programme and again be a re-enforcement of our roles as travel advisors. We will be an important cog in corporate travel programmes as well as acting as intermediaries for what now may possibly be far more participants in the travel chain, as the “health” status of the traveller takes precedence.
It may just be peeping out from behind the dark cloud right now, but the silver lining is definitely there as we prepare to face this pandemic head-on in the months to come.
Nothing can be more appropriate advice for my fellow Travel Professionals than to use the old Boy Scout adage of ‘be prepared.’ The TMCs that are ready to professionally and efficiently advise on and execute entirely new travel industry requirements and strategies, will be the first to be able to say, “COVID-19? Yes, it was a challenge, but for us, it’s business as usual!”LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER