With coronavirus cases continuing to spike around the world, global travellers remain indefinitely grounded. To date, just 17 countries are open to Indians without restrictions. If Germany, Canada, the Maldives, or any of the other 14 countries on that list aren’t in the cards, then travellers itching to get on an international flight will have to wait.
How long is still unknown. Elizabeth Becker, author of Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism, notes that the pandemic “decimated” the $8 trillion global travel industry overnight. “Those essential pillars of 21st-century global travel—open borders, open destinations, and visa-free travel—won’t return in the short term or even medium term,” she says.
What does that mean for the future of travel? Despite the turbulence, experts are seeing blue skies. Bruce Poon Tip, author of Unlearn: The Year the Earth Stood Still and the founder of travel company G Adventures, says not only will we travel again, we’ll do it better. “I still believe travel can be the biggest distributor of wealth the world has ever seen,” he says. “This pause gives us the gift of time to consider how we can travel more consciously.”
From a renewed commitment to sustainable tourism to creative ways to globetrot from home, here’s how travel authors, bloggers, and podcasters are navigating.
SUSTAINABILITY WILL BE A DRIVING FORCE
One silver lining of the pandemic? Consumers are doubling down on sustainability. Becker predicts travellers will take on the role of “concerned citizens” demanding responsible travel policies. The industry will respond with active measures to prioritise a healthy world over profit margins. “Don’t be surprised if countries mandate ‘fly-free days’ and other measures to control climate change,” she says. PLAN AHEAD Reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing offsets with companies such as Cool Effect and by staying at certified green hotels. Check sites like Book Different, which rates accommodations for eco-friendliness.
OUR JOURNEYS WILL BECOME MORE INCLUSIVE
The Black Lives Matter movement has brought the issue of representation to light in all industries, including travel. That’s overdue, says Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon. The award-winning journalist and TV host says she hopes the industry is moving toward meaningful change but worries that any change may be short-lived. “When the pandemic is past and the hashtags are no longer trending, will industry gatekeepers still be eager to attract, cater to, and celebrate travellers of colour?” she writes in an email. “I’m cautiously optimistic but not completely convinced.”
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