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Three ways travel will change, at least for a while

Gareth Johnson June 1, 2020
Photo by TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images

As a travel agent, I’m not only cancelling tours every month, but I’m also still constantly dealing with enquiries from people desperate to travel, and travel as quickly as possible.

This obviously presents a lot of challenges from dealing with the question of “when do you think things will get back to normal?” to giving an assessment of the likelihood of traveling to various places within the next few months.

What is a little crazy about this is how little knowledge a large chunk of the population have about not only covid-19, but more importantly about what it is doing to travel as whole.

To cut a long story short, there is currently as we stand no global tourist industry, and while places like Spain, Greece and, as of today, Bulgaria have announced they are opening to tourism, the world is likely to be a lot slower.

In south-east Asia the tourism powerhouses of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines remain very much closed in spite of the fact they have almost no cases.

While that may seem strange, it remains a matter of common sense. Were things to get serious in most south-East Asian countries, they would simply not have the capacity to deal with a healthcare emergency. Ironically it means those some of those nations suffering the worst financially through the loss of tourism are being the strictest.

While nobody can truly claim to know what the future holds for travel, there are a few rules that seem like safe bets:

1. Think regional, not global

Travel will probably become much more regionalised in the short term, but possibly also in the longer-term, with staycations and continental travel being the norm.

China, for example, has said it will stay closed until at least October, with its neighbours and allies, such as Thailand and Cambodia likely to be the first in line when China does reopen.

Long haul trips may be on hold for quite some time.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

2. Expect the unexpected

As well as travel taking a while to open up, the process is likely to involve an awful lot of trial, error and changes of policy.

Travellers may have to get used to plans being rearranged, often at short notice, and be ready to build in greater flexibility than they would’ve done in the past.

3. Invest in a face mask

And, finally, like it or not, you’re going to need to get yourself a face mask.

They may not be fashionable or comfortable, but they are going to become a mainstay of travel for the foreseeable future, just like taking your shoes off at security checkpoints.

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Gareth Johnson is a travel writer and founder of adventure travel company Young Pioneer Tours. When he’s not exploring weird places he enjoys Soju and street food, in that order.