Updated: Sep 20, 2020
Part III – The Future
What does the future hold for travel? As mentioned briefly in Part II, over-tourism had become a significant problem in many regions of the world, and leading up to February 2020, many of you will have read one or more of the numerous articles sharing the devasting impact of over-tourism in some parts of the world. As just one example, the Earth's coral reefs, some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems in the world, are facing a number of serious threats including persistent sunscreen pollution, which is contributing to their destruction.
In past years, several countries have been taking steps to slow the damage caused by this over-tourism. Bhutan imposed a tariff for visitors entering the Kingdom to help reduce the number of visitors. In Peru, Machu Picchu introduced rules that dictate that tourists will be strictly limited to four hour stays, beaches in Thailand were closed to all tourists to enable their eco-systems to replenish, and as we were leading into a very busy year for tourism in 2020 more restrictions were being introduced.
Sadly, overnight we moved to the opposite extreme - the damaging impact of under-tourism, resulting in bringing country’s economies to the brink of collapse because they are so dependent on the tourism industry. Significant increases in unemployment on a global scale, entire communities that depend on tourism to survive struggling to feed themselves, aquariums and zoos struggling to feed their animals, leading some having to resort to euthanasia of some to save others, and poaching putting endangered species at even greater risk. The impacts of this pandemic are being experienced by the entire world at some level or another and it is going to take time to recover from this.
In the past twenty years the travel industry has been through several events that saw an immediate and significant decline in travel, such as the recession in 2008, the terrorist attacks in 2011, however travel did recover, as I firmly believe it will again. While these events did not have the same long-lasting devasting effect on travel on a global scale that we currently have with the COVID-19 pandemic, travel has still become one of the largest industries in the world, with $5.7 trillion in revenue. It is responsible for an estimated 319 million jobs, or roughly one in 10 people working world-wide.
What does this all mean for the future? As we transition into what has become known as the “new normal” there are so many unanswered questions. When will we be able to travel freely across borders? When will masks no longer be required? Will travel be safe again? I don’t pretend to have all, or even some of the answers. But, I do want to share my thoughts on the safety of travel. It is important to share this is my personal view and yours may be very different.
I believe that regardless of how much of a planner we are by nature, when we wake up every day we don’t know what is going to happen in the next moment, minutes or hours. We may have planned out our entire day, but something happens in the morning that changes our entire plan for better or worse, because we can’t predict the future!
Each of us have a level of comfort, or put another way a risk tolerance level, which allows us to manage
through those unpredictable circumstances that may arise during our perfectly planned day, week or month! But we each take risks we are comfortable with. For example, I might be happy to take the risk associated with paragliding in Medellin, Colombia, with Big Five but another person may not. For me, the reward of the paragliding experience outweighs the risk of possible injury to me if something goes wrong.
We have one life to live and we really don’t know if that will be for 30 years, 60 years or 90 years or anything in-between, therefore each of us will decide what risks they are comfortable in assuming and what they are not. With COVID-19, I know that this is a really tough one – no one wants to get sick, or be responsible for getting others sick, but I also believe that if I behave responsibly by wearing a mask, washing my hands and staying 6 feet apart and following all health and safety protocols then I am able to travel. It is a very individual decision and is about taking responsibility for oneself AND others.
As shared in my two earlier blogs, I have had the great good fortune to travel extensively, but I still have many destinations and experiences on my personal bucket list and I have been using this time of staying home and being socially/physically distant to plan some of my trips for the future, prioritizing my bucket list items based on the best time of year to travel, whether the destination is changing due to climate changes or to see animals with declining populations in the wild before they become extinct.
As a Virtuoso Travel Advisor, I am also able to share a wonderful free web-based application with you called Wanderlist. if you are interested, here is the link. I would encourage you to play around in it. You can create as many trips as you would like and invite family members or friends to join the trip(s) with you. For example, you can invite family memories for a reunion trip in 2021, or invite friends for a wine and culinary trip through France or Italy, or both? Or maybe, it is a long-awaited bucket list trip to go on a safari or visit the Amalfi Coast. We may not be traveling today, but we can certainly be dreaming of future travels and start the planning process.
I know that COVID has created economic challenges for many families and friends, and I want to be respectful of that, but I also know that many corporations and industries are thriving due to COVID. So many of my past colleagues in pharmaceutical research are working harder than ever before as they work to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. As a result, I am hearing from several friends that their companies are looking to acknowledge the amount of work being completed in record time by allowing employees to transfer some of their vacation time into 2021 as very few have truly been able to enjoy a vacation in 2020. I would suggest to anyone who has the ability, to consider taking a little longer vacation in 2021 and beyond. Enjoy your time away to truly experience the destination in the best way possible for you.
None of us knows what the future will hold, however one important lesson this pandemic should have taught us all, is that we shouldn’t delay making plans to meet up with family and friends, or postpone those travel experiences we keep dreaming about for “tomorrow” whether that is next week, month or year. I sincerely hope that as we recover from this pandemic, we don’t experience anything like this in our futures, but I firmly believe that we should live life fully today and if you love to travel, please reach out to your travel advisor and start planning your next trip. If you don’t have a travel advisor, I am ready to receive your call. You may not be ready to travel until later in 2021 or even 2022, but the planning processing is fun and it will provide you with something to look forward to!
I will leave you with my favorite quote from Hans Christian Anderson “To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, To gain all while you give, To roam the roads of lands remote, To travel is to live”. I encourage you all to LIVE 😊 Let's go there!