Travel after COVID-19: How will it change?
Since early December 2019 that the novel coronavirus originated and spread. The travel industry is currently suffering during the pandemic up to this point. As of 6 April 2020, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported 209 destinations globally adopted COVID-19 related travel restrictions. Up to 50 million people might lose their job in the travel and tourism industry worldwide. It could take up to 10 months in order to recover after the epidemic is over according to The World Travel and Tourism Council.
While the world comes to a halt, many questions have been raised. How will we travel after the lockdown? The answers are highly variable. The scope, the price and the value of traveling are another story after the coronavirus shock. But we are starting to get a glimpse of what is to come.
Note: The information below is non-factual. It is the author’s opinion on how the travel industry might change.
How COVID-19 will change the way we travel
Travel bans and border closes worldwide impact not only have an international impact but also domestically such as public transportation and shared mobility services.
Several changes and implementations have to be taking into account to protect passengers and staff during the pandemic.
In the long-run, staff needs to be well informed of the risks and well prepared. Special training on how to disinfect facilities and surfaces properly must be put into practice as public transportation staff is surely is having close contact with many passengers during their whole shift.
After COVID-19, we may see public transportation staff working with more gear like gloves or respiratory protection for some time.
It will be a different picture for passengers once they step on to the public bus or train.
A new policy like face mask requirement will be applied and could stay in effect for many months to come (or even years). Passengers are already being asked to wear a face mask or cloth mask in order to enter the train in some countries like South Korea or Thailand.
The use of a plexiglass barrier that completely separates the driver space will be common in both public transport and shared mobility services. A general reduction of available seats to maintain social distancing among passengers will be applied more frequently. These changes will at least last until the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived or a widespread community immunity is achieved. Maybe social distancing will become the new norm.
The new implement measures worldwide and the documents required will make the queues at the airport or border immigrations even longer than they already were before the outbreak. You can expect many temperatures checks at various checkpoints. Even the slightest suspicion that you have an increased body temperature might causes you not to be able to enter the country.
Nonetheless, even if the risks of infections are minimized and COVID-19 will subside, it is likely that travelers will be asked to provide additional document regarding their personal health conditions before entering a country.
It has been reported that passengers may have to present a negative COVID-19 test in order to travel to the Schengen Area after the borders slowly open back to normal. In terms of the COVID-19 vaccine, once it is developed for all, visa applicants may also be required to be vaccinated in the future, in particular, if the virus remains active.
Another key point to take into account when we travel again is travel insurance. Countries may require you to get a mandatory travel insurance that does COVID-19 in case that you have to be hospitalized in the foreign country.
Many sources have said that business travel will return but it will not be the same volume for at least 2 or 3 years as it was before the COVID-19 era. Year over year, the total number of business travelers and the amounts of money they spend has steadily increased because of population and economic growth.
However, the amount of business travel that was taking place before the pandemic will not return for several reasons. Companies that used to spend money on business travel will likely minimize the cost of the trip or cut it out in order to save their expenses. The meeting that is not necessary face to face will be replaced by technology such as video conferencing. Last but not least, the health of an employee will always have a priority.
In spite of working and collaborating digitally, travel for business is believed to recover but more mindful and healthier for employees. Business travel after COVID-19 will focus mostly on shorter travel either domestically or within the same region. People will change the way they hold any network meetings for exchanging knowledge and collaborations. This means any business travel is expected to maximize the benefits and meet as few people as possible as safe as possible.
Until this point, people have been using various online services and paid for it via credit cards. More people are starting to get used to the convenience of simply ordering their products online. This has the big advantage of avoiding cash when paying over the counter at supermarkets and eateries. This can be seen as a clear future for a cashless society also in terms of cashless travel.
Leading companies such as Apple, Samsung, and Google have launched their contactless mobile payment options. Customers can just tap a phone to a compatible terminal and the transaction is made. Most importantly, to be able to make a payment without cash will greatly reduce the risk of a virus infection.
After the pandemic subsides, cashless travel will look more appealing as travelers are aware of the potential hygiene risks around handling banknotes and businesses might need to adapt to offer 100% online & contactless payment options to tourists and locals.
Your travel packing list will look different
People will definitely change what they pack for travel after the the coronavirus starts to settle.
To give an example, let’s think about the most important thing that every website is telling us to do. The World Health Organization (WHO) together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated on every COVID-19 page that everyone must clean their hands with the alcohol-based hand rubs or soap and water as often as possible.
With that being said, you must ensure that there is enough space for your hands disinfectant products in your luggage. Most importantly, travelers just simply need to be informed of how much is allowed for hand sanitizer.
As mentioned in this article from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which allows one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags.
So, keep in mind to check the standard allowance of hand sanitizer before packing so you will get through the checkpoints without trouble. Additionally, a digital thermometer is also recommended. This will help identify a fever so that travelers can seek medical care when needed.
Maybe it could also be introduced as a requirement. You can only fly or travel across provinces if you have disinfectant products on-hands. Only time will really tell how strongly this current Coronavirus will change our rules and behaviors.
Travel but stay informed in real-time
People will go out of their house to travel again whether for business or leisure. Once that pandemic is over, travelers will open apps on their smartphone to see if any confirmed patients or the highly infected area might be the destination or the route.
The importance of feeling safe before going on a trip will be a new norm after COVID-19. There are already many coronavirus applications that were created by developers around the world during this hard time.
Most of the apps in the market typically have the same several features. Those platforms include an alert feature of a high-risk area, tracking of potential patients, and COVID-19 daily reports.
Choice of destination will look different post COVID
The near-sight future of post-coronavirus traveling will be close-to-home destinations. People will choose to travel via their own automobile, passenger rail, and shorter flights to explore nearby destinations. Densely populated landmarks will be crossed off the list.
Unsurprisingly, Jay Sorensen, travel analyst from IdeaWorks, foresees post-coronavirus pandemic traveling trends that travelers will equate ‘rural and outdoors’ with good health and ‘crowds and public spaces’ with higher risk.
Apart from the health related reasons, people are likely to be interested in low-cost travel given how Coronavirus has a strong impact on the economy.
These are some scenarios how we think the travel and tourism industry will change after the COVID-19 health crisis. Some businesses will unavoidably shut down but other businesses will arise. No matter what future is waiting at the other side of the outbreak, it leaves us with such a valuable lesson. Travel is a very meaningful part of life which gives numerous opportunities and creates many jobs for millions of people. In the meantime as we hope for the better to come, we will carefully create our wish list and prepare to get out traveling again.