Traveling post Covid-19 is going to be so weird
That there would be a full on global health pandemic was unimaginable. Though the data suggests that it was predicted by those with the scientific expertise to know – and generally I believe them - it’s still a little crazy to me, ya know? You just wouldn't have thought it would have become the reality.
By now everyone would be largely abreast of the Covid-19 spread and the necessary measures taken by countries across the globe. No point in rambling too much there, let’s focus on one thing: Travel.
The problem that the commercial aviation business solves is connectivity; they literally earn a profit by bringing people together safely, efficiently and across a vast number of cities. The problem that Covid-19 created was that connectivity became the enemy, since physical contact enables the transmission of the virus. Now look at us, everyone comfortably 6 feet apart texting awkwardly in grocery store lines because we can’t whisper to our friends. If an alien were to have woken up and said “Hey, let me turn on Earth for a while” and suddenly seen us all wearing masks and exhibiting anti-social behavior they’d be pretty damn confused.
What’s so frightening is that viruses mutate and therefore even when the pandemic slows, and restrictions are relaxed there is still a threat of re-infection and resurgence of the virus. Ain’t that a bitch? Enough cynical conjecture though, here are four things that I think could happen when the world is safe again, and travel is permitted. Humor me.
Medical Tourism, but not exactly…
This isn’t an indictment against any of the men and women who are caring for infected patients and exposing themselves to the risk of contracting Covid -19. In fact, they ought to be commended more so than some of the world’s leaders, particularly in that one country with the orange guy, I mean for f*cks sake. It must be frustrating to work without adequate resources and protection, rest, or a moment to spend time with your family. You guys are the ones at the vanguard and every possible accolade goes to you. Thank you, your services are beyond essential and your actions are beyond selfless. This is about resources, and capabilities that go beyond the medical staff.
One thing the pandemic has shown is the strengths and weaknesses in the healthcare systems around the world, exhibited in a way most millennial’s have never witnessed. Many people are going to be conscious of this as travel resumes. The nagging question is going to be “If Covid-19 rears up again, and I get it, where do I want to be? This thought crossed my mind when I was bitten by a mosquito about 20 minutes ago.
I thought nothing of going to a seaside village in Mozambique without taking the malaria medication. Context: There was truly no real hospital, more of a clinic and we were nearly 10 hours drive away from the nearest city – Maputo. Didn’t bother me at all, because (as silly as this sounds) I figured that malaria being so common, it would probably be relatively easy to deal with using the basic meds I’d traveled with. Our friend Joao told me he’d had it twice, which to my then reckless mind was all the assurance I needed.
Ask me if I’d do that shit in the context of Covid-19? Absolutely not; the availability of medical facilities is going to be a big factor in my post-corona travel decisions. If the risk of contracting it exists, it is a risk to be considered.
Short haul flights over long haul for a while….
I appreciate that this is tangential to the “medical tourism” argument, but it’s connected to an even deeper sense of vulnerability. No one (except maybe me, #quarantineworldtour would catch on I bet) would want to end up locked down under the restrictions of anywhere other than their home. Imagine a 16 hour flight being the difference between you making it home, or having to bunker down in Hong Kong?
What I think is going to happen is, destinations within a 3 – 5 hour flight of home are going to see a surge in popularity for the short to medium term. For Bahamians in particular, I anticipate more people will begin travelling to places in Central, and Southern America, Canada, and the Caribbean. The frequency of flights to these regions will be the major factor, as will their respective national covid-19 restrictions. This is the perfect time to segue into my next point.
Covid-19 Vaccination Protocols…..
Every country has the right to set and enforce its own laws. Based on what we know about Covid-19, it can skip from person to person like the gaze of a baby observing multiple new faces in a room. An old schoolmate of mine replied to a tweet I sent, and I made a valid ass point – What if the Covid-19 vaccination becomes part of the entry requirements for travel to certain places? Let’s think about this.
South Africa for example, has a list of countries that if any person whose origin is, or transits through they must produce a yellow fever vaccination certificate. You can’t really be mad at that, you have to protect your citizens and that’s entirely fine. It’s just going to be one more pain in the ass when you’re ready to book a flight.
So, in there are two scenarios, pre-vaccine post pandemic, and post vaccine post pandemic. In the short to medium term, travel will resume and this will still likely be well before a vaccine is developed. In the long term the world will see a vaccine developed, but in both of these scenarios there is a likely effect on travel. Many countries will likely maintain flight restrictions specific to certain places where the outbreak was particularly heavy.
The more concerning side of this coin is that in the post vaccine post pandemic world, a vaccine may be mandatory for entry to certain places depending on your origin or level of exposure. It will go from restricting flights from Italy, into England to allowing the movement of people subject to proof of vaccination. This is a theory, of course.
Either way, are you going to vaccinate if and when it becomes available? Jury is out on this one for me.
New taxes on travel…
You know that moment when you examine the fair details trying to figure out what all the different abbreviations and fees and all that shit means? Yeah, I don’t like it either. What I am going to say next is like something from a traveler’s nightmare.
It is in a government’s mandate to do what is in the best interest of the Country. Do they always do so, no they don’t but that’s another conversation. There is no economy that was spared the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and it will be incumbent on leaders across the globe (particularly the ones facing re-election) to figure out how to generate revenue. I don’t think it is too remote a proposition that at a national level, we will begin seeing what I will call a “pandemic tax”. A little fee that is going to be passed on to the consumer by the airline, and ultimately paid into the treasury, got me?
It would be a countries way of collecting pandemic insurance. 5 million visitors x $1 per visitor is still $5 million dollars. You may not have a $141 million war-chest like Wimbledon (Google it), but at least you are making some revenue from the risk, which is simply that a visitor may bring a contagious disease into the country.
For what it’s worth, let’s hope that I am wrong and this all subsides smoothly without too bitter of an after taste. The most important thing is that everyone is safe, and abiding by the measures in place in your respective country.