Although the pandemic is far from over, we would all like to be able to crystal ball gaze and see the ultimate impact COVID-19 will have on travel and what this means for travel journalism. With borders slowly opening and green and red lists of countries being introduced in Ireland and Belgium for example, people will be able to travel abroad again.
However, we cannot get around the fact that we are now living in a changed world, with many rules applying to a ‘New Normal’ in our daily lives which will affect traveling as well. It looks like many people will be resorting to ‘staycations’ this year, rather than actually traveling abroad by plane, but far-away places will still be on our bucket list.
So, what does this mean for the travel industry and travel journalism?
Hardly any business is left untouched by the pandemic, but the travel industry has taken a gigantic hit since the world went into lockdown. Before February, the industry was booming, with airports growing and airlines adding more routes, making it easier to travel from one place to another without batting an eye. Now, we can only look back fondly on those memories.
The shock of the COVID-19 crisis has hit the air transport industry deeper than 9/11, which saw airport security heightened and stricter screening of passengers. The ‘New Normal’ will add further measures focusing on safety, security, and sustainability. After 9/11 anti-terrorism was a main concern with regards to safety and security, now health and wellbeing of travellers is a top priority.
Furthermore, as the world came to a standstill for three months, the earth recovered, and nature was thriving. This may very well result in passengers reconsidering air travel for short-haul flights and reserving this means of travel for long-haul only.
Greta Thunberg made us aware of the environmental advantages of train travel and with travel slowly picking up, ferry travel could be a new holidaymaker’s favourite as it enables all the above with an added bonus of a fresh sea breeze. We have already noticed a significant increase in journalists embracing the “slow travel” movement in place of air travel, this could certainly become a major trend.
Environmental friendliness and social distance enabled travel will be on the top of everyone’s mind for a long time to come. A trend we also see when it comes to travel journalism, with influencers and journalists already indicating that cleanliness is the number one priority during their travels and reporting.
When travel has fully rebounded, we cannot predict, however we will all think about traveling differently. Instead of ticking off as many countries from our dream list as possible, perhaps the first thing on your mind will be visiting family and loved ones, or the places known to be the least risk.
We might have laughed at Naomi Campbell’s airplane routine last year – sanitizing hands, seat and other surfaces and wearing a facemask is the New Normal for a long time to come.
In the meantime, I’ll be on team #staycation!
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