Is the freedom to travel a right, or a privilege? I believe it is pretty much both. As I see it, the freedom to travel is both a hard-fought one which we have earned, so it becomes a right, but because we want to travel beyond our own borders it becomes a privilege too. Let me explain…
Travel as a freedom
One of the worst things about Covid was that it deprived us of one of our most basic freedoms – the freedom to travel. With our wings severely clipped we could not glide to foreign lands to create or cement new businesses liaisons, and even within our own borders, we could not plan a trip for those special family holidays to reunite with our loved ones. No matter how effective virtual devices had become, we felt deprived of a basic human right – to go and shake the hand of a business partner, or share a warm hug with a loved one to console them or simply convey our love through human touch, something no screen can ever replace.
A basic human right
I got to thinking about this because we celebrate our Human Rights Day this month, a day that had to be fought for and the history of which we should never forget. It was a day of great tragedy but one which, together with many other milestone events, led us to enjoying one of the best constitutions in the world, a constitution that has afforded us many rights, and the right to freedom of movement is one of them. For this reason, therefore, I do consider the freedom to travel a right.
Travel as a privilege
However, in certain ways, it is not a right and has to be considered to be a great privilege. Travel within our own borders should certainly always be a right afforded to all our citizens, but once we travel to foreign countries, or have foreign guests travel to ours, the governments of those countries have the right to screen our entry and decide if we are free to travel there or not. Consequently, we have always been subjected to obtaining visas and other travel documents, but this has now been exacerbated by a huge amount of COVID-19 documentation and requirements. Health and safety are the primary concern of all governments and with the amount of red tape one has to comply with it is sometimes hard to think of international travel as a freedom at all.
Travel professionals are also a privilege.
Perhaps it’s just me because I am so passionate about travel and the industry I am proud to be a part of, but I always see my travel businesses and all the dedicated professionals that work within them as heroes of a modern-day struggle – the fight to attain a feeling of travel freedom for their clients, wherever they may be. Hard-working, committed people, determined to make travel as seamless and safe as possible, and most importantly to hold their client’s hands throughout the travel experience so that they feel connected to home, these are the Travel Professionals we are privileged to have serving us.
We should always remember too, that the past couple of years has resulted in many of these people’s livelihoods being threatened and although many of those who lost their jobs are now back at their desks, working even harder in a far more complex travel environment, they still have smiles on their faces and a fierce determination to ensure seamless travel experiences for all whom they serve.
Yes, the freedom to travel is something we hold dear and never want to lose, so let’s all work together, corporate heads, travellers, TMCs, DMC’s and tour operators and their tireless Travel Professionals, to ensure that even when it is not a right – travel is always a great privilege!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER