Kyle’s excellent piece on the current melancholic nature of travel prompted a nod of agreement, but also a spark of optimism. Travel will come back. It will come roaring back. Because we love to travel. We are human beings.
The Roaring 20s Of Travel
We can look at the pandemic in two ways right now. On the one hand, we can see that cases are still rising, people are still rising, a lack of vaccinations in the developing world will prolong it, and countries will be very conservative in re-opening borders.
But on the other hand, let’s count up the progress that has been made. Each day we understand the virus better than ever before. Each day hundreds of thousands, if not millions, are being vaccinated. Case numbers are dropping even ahead of the northern hemisphere spring, when they are expected to drop even further.
And people want to travel. People are anxious to travel. We’ve had more business at Award Expert this week than we have had in several months. People are starting to plan trips and want to book summer and fall travel now. What this demonstrates is a certain level of comfort that we have not seen since the pandemic shut down the world last March.
We are also seeing a thaw in border lockdowns, with Iceland indicating it will let in travelers who have been vaccinated. I expect other nations will follow. I expect some sort of electronic vaccine passport that will make it easier to travel in the second half of the year.
Testing is getting better. It is being offered in more places and companies like Hyatt are thinking outside the box by realizing that if it cavers testing, travelers will come. I expect we will see rapid testing available at most major airports by the end of the year, which will further make travel easier.
We’re still learning so much about COVID-19. The news is not all great: it seems the Oxford vaccine is not nearly as effective against the South African variant as hoped. We must face the fact that we may never defeat the virus but be forced to coexist with it, as we do influenza. We may need a virus shot each year just like a flu shot.
But whether or not that ultimately is the case, we will go back to our lives. We will start traveling again. We will start gathering together again. Because humans are meant to gather. They are meant to travel. And the virus will not stop us.
So take heart today. Cheer up. Travel will come roaring back. I think it will happen this year. Maybe it will be next year. Maybe it won’t be like 2019. But it will be great. I’m looking forward to it.