EVER HEAR of Nauru? Or Vanuatu? Well, post-COVID-19, those two tiny (reportedly) “virus-free” French Polynesian countries may become the most popular tourist destinations for those looking for a safe haven.
Unfortunately, the world has become a much smaller place for travellers thanks to the pandemic, and with almost every country on Earth being affected by the virus, the question now is when will nations be willing or able to welcome tourists again?
Considering the fear remains that COVID-19 will return in the fall and with no proven anecdote on the horizon, many experts are predicting most countries will remain off limits to foreigners for the foreseeable future. In other words, travel and tourism are dead issues for the remainder of 2020.
It’s not just where and when we’ll be able to travel again but what restrictions and limitations will travellers face going forward?
If you thought the constraints after 9/11 were intrusive, then expect even tougher procedures at airports and border crossings post-COVID-19.
Above: Face masks are sure to become part of a travellers wardrobe in the post-COVID-19 world.
For example, you’ll probably have your temperature monitored on arrival everywhere — manufacturers of thermal cameras are reporting a huge spike in demand from airport authorities worldwide.
Oh, and open your mouth, please — European airports are reportedly ready to introduce swab tests for foreigners, especially those arriving from COVID-19 hotspots like the U.S. and Asia.
Some countries are even considering asking travellers to acquire a medical certificate showing they do not have or ever had the virus before they can gain entry. They also have to be worried about quarantined restrictions if the virus erupts again.
Expect visas to come back into vogue, even among EU-member states.
The Imperial College London is going so far as to suggest some countries may limit entry of foreigners to certain times of the year and for shorter periods.
Those social distancing measures that proved so successful at the height of the pandemic may now go skyward — larger seat spacing on aircraft is reportedly being considered by regulators, which means fewer seats and higher airfares.
Those quick turnaround flights that airlines need to stay profitable may be a thing of the past — passengers will now expect planes to be properly sterilized between flights before they board.
Above: Planes will need thorough cleanings and travellers can expect more restrictions in countries.
Interestingly, though, we may see some of the 9/11 security restrictions fly out the window post COVID-19. For instance, travellers worried about germs will now be permitted to take 350ml of hand sanitizer on board — up from the 100ml allowed pre-COVID-19. That news is important to long-haul passengers.
Who will help get you to your destination in the future is another issue.
Major airlines are sure to get financial bailouts, but what about charter airlines? In Canada, they cater to the all-important all-inclusive traveller and their demise could lead to much higher winter vacation costs.
Another victim of the virus could be tour operators. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) fears 46 per cent of tour operators are now at risk of closing their doors within the next six months — 86 per cent of travel operators generated less than $250,000 (U.S.) last year, so they are more vulnerable than most travel businesses.
The WTTC predicts it will take up to 10 months for the hospitality sector to return to normal levels and fears the pandemic could result in the loss of 50 million sector jobs globally.
We can also expect some big changes regarding business travel — the most lucrative for the hospitality industry.
Because so many business people worked from home and relied on video and tele-conferencing to stay connected to clients and colleagues during the pandemic, cash-strapped companies may abandon international travel for the foreseeable future. That would be a crushing blow for 5-star hotels and airlines who rely so heavily in premium cabin income.
So, if you are interested in learning more about Nauru — it’s located about 4,300 km from Australia with a population of 13,000. Have fun!