It doesn’t take a great deal to imagine what airports around the globe currently look like, basically, the shadow of their former bustling selves. But as with all things, history tells us that the pendulum will always swing back and this too shall pass, which means that a gradual return to international travel can and will occur in the coming months as social distancing protocols and regulations ease or just become part of daily routine. The question on the tip of every tongue is – what will the travel experience be like post Covid 19?
I am not a fortune teller with a crystal ball, or do I have professional qualifications as a psychic but, in my capacity as a travel expert – my perspective is of both a positive idealist and an honest realist. I think it’s safe to assume that demand will initially be greater than supply, there are many reports to support this, based on internet searches, but it’s clear, we’ll never return to the old version of ‘normal’. Initially the journey time is likely to be longer as more time will be required at airports for mandatory checks to be carried out. Depending on where you are flying from, these could include temperature tests, covid 19 blood tests, as well as additional sanitising of you, your clothes and your luggage.
The flying experience, for the foreseeable future, will include the wearing of masks and gloves by both passenger and crew. There has been talk of leaving middle seats free, but no sign of action on this yet. There are many fears in people that being on a plane is not safe as you can get ill. It has been scientifically proven that you have as much chance of getting ill on a plane as you do in a hotel, shop, cruise ship or car. The issue is not the hardware, the common problem is a sick person being in the same environment. The new normal is already demonstrating that what ever the environment, health and safety is of the highest concern and therefore being dealt with by implementing so many new protocols. We are experiencing many of these here in Cyprus already. Restaurants must sanitize menus after every use as well as all staff wearing masks and gloves. Sun beds are set further apart at the beach, the number of people in a pool is restricted and the list goes on.
The new normal for travel is very much like the new normal in our daily lives. If anything, these changes will bring a massive improvement to the cleanliness and hygiene standards all around the world, which will mean that staying in a hotel or enjoying a cruise will be a safer place to relax than your imagination allows you to believe. We will not see people touching food at buffets and putting it back as self service is now a thing of the past. There will no longer be sun beds reserved at 5am as they will need to be cleaned immediately before use and only available during pool operational hours. Most importantly, hotels are regularly checking their staff are maintaining these standards as the penalties are too high to abuse them.
Cruise holidays have been used as the scape goat at the beginning of the pandemic. Incredibly, this has always been the most hygienic and health and safety conscious division of hospitality. The media could not help themselves as the news of the pandemic hit us in February. Unfortunately, as the scientific world had no understanding of how to deal with the virus, the advice given at the time was totally incorrect. Due to this media frenzy, a global suspension on cruise ships has been in place since the end of Feb. many cruise lines would like to start cruising again, but the current challenges they face are that countries each have their own protocols, some not yet announced and many borders are still closed. Cruising is about experiencing many countries and cultures in one holiday. On the subject of cruising, I have good and bad news. The bad news is that most cruise lines have now suspended operations until the end of October. The good news is that from that point and well in to 2021 there are some incredible deals to be had. That said, there will definitely be fewer ships sailing as the cruise lines will slowly re-introduce their fleets back over many, many months. There will also be many new protocols in place.
These will include touchless check-ins, health checks prior to boarding, lower number of guests on-board, smaller excursion numbers and a whole lot more that has not even been announced yet. I do not need a crystal ball to say that where cruise is concerned, for 2021, demand will outnumber supply. The reason I am so sure is that I can see it already. Most of the people that have had their cruise cancelled for 2020 by the cruise line, have rebooked for 2021. This combined with great prices and fewer ships confirms it.
To conclude, the new travel normal will soon become the travel normal in all our eyes. Many of these protocols will remain in place long after a vaccine is produced. Lets face it the travel normal that we have all enjoyed is very different to years gone by, when seat belts were not mandatory, when smoking was permitted at the back of the plane, when you could park outside the entrance of an airport, when you could travel with the litre bottle of squash that you had made up at home, when booking a seat number or being served a meal was an expected inclusion, when half board always meant a buffet and when you could ask the stewardess if little Tommy could go into the cockpit.
As human beings we are used to and very good at adapting to change. we just do not like the transition period. My advice is to embrace it and live your dreams, we all need something to look forward to, now more than ever.
Written by Dan Essex, Century Travel