The Covid19 pandemic and the restrictions that came along with it brought travel to a standstill in just a few short weeks. And like many, we are wondering when and what travel might look like in the future, with so much uncertainty. Certainly, travel won’t be exactly the same as it was, with major changes required to keep ourselves and those around us healthy and safe. But, while there is a lot of uncertainty, when the time comes there are ways we can ensure our return to travel is better than ever for the communities we visit and ourselves too. Here are five ways that we think coronavirus has changed our travel to be better in the future
1. Travel will be more worthwhile
As we are staying inside as much as we could for the safety of ourselves and our loved ones. The urge for travel has become so big that it made us more appreciative of hitting the road even more. Coronavirus has made travel different from before because it will be more meaningful in terms of the value of a holiday and the idea of a ‘proper’ time off. After social distancing, you might be craving human connection and while virtual experiences can help to bridge the gap, it’s hard to beat face-to-face interactions. When you can travel again, savor the opportunity to meet other like-minded travelers or strangers from other walks of life, and make the most of what you gain from them and them from you.
2. Destinations will be more beautiful than before
The environmental impacts of tourism extend beyond carbon emissions to helping local communities preserve natural environments and wildlife, in some cases where alternatives are limited or involve exploiting natural resources. Many programs empower communities to protect local environments and to educate visitors and the community on the benefits of protection. In contrast, we have seen other glimmers of hope in the effects on wildlife with increasing numbers of rare leatherback turtle nests on beaches in Phuket, Thailand, after decades, with the lack of tourists and locals on the beaches. Again, this should remind us that as travelers our behavior has an effect on the environments and eco-systems we visit, and particularly in sensitive areas or those that over-run with tourists, this is compounded.
3. Sustainable travel is becoming a trend
When you travel you’re supporting an industry that creates jobs for people all over the world, from a chef on a Halong Bay overnight boat to a local guide in the Sapa, to a hotel cleaner. Right now, the jobs of many of those people employed within the industry have been severely impacted, with estimates are that 100 million jobs are at risk globally as a result of the pandemic and changes to travel. This coronavirus and the subsequent financial impact has been hard on many, with lots of prospective travelers also impacted and unable to travel for the foreseeable future. Further to the point above, travelers will likely choose responsible products on their trips to make their holiday count for the local communities and the environment. If the virus has taught us one thing, it has shown that it shows no discrimination and thus people will show more compassion and make positive choices while traveling.
While you might not be able to travel right now, if you can, try to support those employed in tourism globally by planning, delaying, or booking your future travel. While your international travel plans might be delayed, or your next trip might be a little closer to home, your commitment to traveling better in the future will help support those people and communities that have been struggling. There is the hope of adventures to come.
4. Reducing the carbon footprint is more considered
Since the lockdowns have been imposed, many reports indicate improvements to air quality in the world’s major cities. At the low point in April, global air travel was roughly 95% below 2019 levels, so combined with lower industrial activity and emissions from road transport, carbon dioxide levels below were well below those prior to the pandemic. Improvement of air quality and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is positive amongst this global crisis and gives us a reason to consider the environmental effects of our actions as travelers when we can travel again. Adventures that include travel by rail, bike, or even on foot reduce greenhouse gases, as do less carbon-intensive activities at your destination, like hikes and bike rides. For the carbon, you can’t avoid producing, consider offsetting it through a program like Offset Earth.
5. Health and Hygiene will be taken seriously
We’ve seen hotels step up their existing health and hygiene measures amidst the virus, but this will likely continue to the future as people are now more conscious in these areas. Guest experiences in hotels will change for the better with less crowded eating spaces, digital check-ins, and more. Social distancing can also be the norm moving forward with travelers craving more remote escapes.
Slowly, our world will reconnect — border by border — and open up. And yet, returning to baseline should not be our metric for success, because mass global tourism had a very sordid underbelly. We have never been so connected as a world, and we have never been more isolated than most of us are right now. We will get back to travel after the coronavirus over, but when we do, we have to do it right.
While you might not be able to head overseas today, you can start planning your future travels. What does 2021 have in store for you?