The fact that Coronavirus stole the show in 2020, is at once revelatory and distressing. Every industry, from agriculture to aerospace, health care to construction, faced an unforeseen challenge; many even came to a screeching halt. The travel and tourism industry felt the full brunt as people were confined to their homes, and airports and railway stations were closed.
Even when the restrictions were lifted, partially or regionally during the later months of 2020, rather than going back to normal the tourism industry has been on a roller coaster ride ever since. There is no room to complain as the microbe has already claimed more than 1.5 million lives and sickened millions more.
With countries implementing vaccination, there is a possibility that international travel and tourism will pick up. Yet, the travel landscape will not be as it was before the pandemic. Though the restrictions and changes are still unpredictable, some inferences about the holiday tour and travels are most probable in 2021.
Testing may not end soon
Testing and quarantining are the two most effective ways to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. It is undoubtedly very inconvenient for anyone embarking on a holiday tour and travel, especially if it is a short trip spanning a few days. In a world recovering from the pandemic, it might seem unnecessary. Nevertheless, it would be folly to put an abrupt end to the procedure. Countries will probably continue to test and strictly implement quarantine at least till the end of 2021.
Vaccination may become mandatory
Preventive vaccination has been developed in different parts of the world. Indeed, the effectiveness of the vaccine can only be known after large scale distribution. Nevertheless, it is highly probable that the tour operator will ask for proof of vaccination before you embark on an international tour package. The World Health Organization, as it has done before, is planning to issue certificates for those who have taken the precaution.
Do not take your masks off, yet
It is highly unlikely that the countries will permit people to walk through the streets without masks. As it is proven that mask is the best way to prevent the spread of the disease, it will remain part of people’s attire for a foreseeable future. Even if you are uncomfortable wearing a mask, you have to endure the difficulty for some time.
Social distancing has become the norm in almost all countries. Even if the tours and travels become normal in the second half of 2021 as predicted by experts, the convention will not be lifted. You will have to live in the bubble some more. Keeping at least one meter distance from everyone around you is quite desirable.
Since October, when the ban on cruising was lifted by the United States, the cruise companies were eager to resume the world tour packages. But unfortunately, the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic sank all their hopes. Given the resurgence of the virus, these companies have postponed their starting dates to late 2021 or early 2022. It sure is exasperating if you were planning to spend your holidays cruising. But you will have to wait a little more to enjoy such a leisure trip.
The effective distribution of the vaccine, which started in different parts of the world in December 2020, will take several months. So it is unrealistic to expect that travel and tourism will go back to the pre-COVID-19 era just like that. There will surely be hot spots and tourist attractions may be closed temporarily. But as time goes by, they may get fewer and fewer.
Business travel to pick up
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, business travel has flatlined. Many business giants are opting for online platforms for conducting meetings. It is a big blow to the airline companies. To attract more travelers, airlines are giving perks in the form of loyalty points, credit card benefits, and other freebies to their frequent travelers. This is alluring and can make these individuals resume their travel. Hence, experts are of the opinion that business travel will pick up sooner than expected.
Children and old people
When vaccines are distributed, it will take some time to curb the disease. Until then, there will be restrictions on free travel. Reverse quarantine— a method of quarantining children below 5 and older people above 60— has proven very effective against COVID-19. It is improbable that countries that have been following the restrictions will lift them easily. Hence travel and tourism to these countries will be restricted to those between 5 and 60. These are likely to go on till the end of 2021.
Workcations to be expected
With remote working the new norm, we can expect people traveling to remote places and working from there. Being confined to their homes for so long, many long to get out of familiar circumstances and go to someplace nice. They are not waiting for their managers to give them vacations. Rather, they take their laptops with them and work from the tourist destination. Such international travel, which combines work and vacation, workcation, is gaining momentum. More people are opting for an international tour package as they feel it will give them the required change in environment and the vacation that their families were longing for.
Cleanliness to be given more priority
The pandemic exposed the fact that the tourism industry is ill-equipped to handle a tough situation. It has given a bad name to the sector, which it will try to wipe off. Though all the major tourist destinations were already kept spotless by the respective governments, the pandemic will undoubtedly raise the bar a little bit more. Regular disinfection is to be expected in every tourist destination even after the virus has subsided.
The fact that the novel Coronavirus disease has changed the landscape of tourism is irrefutable. The industry will have to adopt some long and short-term measures to protect itself from the current crisis and future catastrophes. The above mentioned are the changes and restrictions that are most likely to affect international travel and tourism. However, the sector will surely pick up by the end of 2021 and is expected to achieve the normal growth rate by 2022.
Let us hope that we can take a vacation and enjoy the world tour packages like the pre COVID times soon enough.