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Travelling Trends in a Post-COVID World

Aditya John Mayne,

Manogna Shivaprasad

15th September 2020

As countries around the world ease travel restrictions, experts question whether travel will recover. (Source: Margaret Flatley for The Washington Post)

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the world immeasurably. It has devastated economies and disrupted life in ways once thought unimaginable. The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that the coronavirus pandemic could cut 360 crore jobs in the global travel and tourism industry.

From aviation to hospitality, enterprises continue to face disastrous losses, and a single question loomswhen will travel recover? Domestic travel restrictions are already being eased in countries around the world. Simultaneously, international limits are starting to be lifted with great caution.

With strict lockdowns barring people from travelling within their country and skyrocketing COVID cases worldwide, people have found it increasingly difficult to get by staying at home. People are likely to travel once more, but it will not be the same. New health safety protocols and standards will need to be laid out by governments and industries alike. Digital technology will play an essential role in tracking the health and behaviour of a traveller. The use of digital identity and biometric technologies could re-establish trust while also assuring a seamless journey.

The World Economic Forum reports that the most immediate change will be towards touchless travel. From the airport to the hotel check-in, strict sanitation protocols will be in place with a minimum exchange of papers and documents. Even after precautionary measures, travellers and employees will still face a risk of infection from exposure to contaminated surfaces. Automation will become the new norm across the industry, as biometrics has become a widely accepted solution for identity verification.

The concept of a digital health passport could very well become a reality and a norm if organisations come together and provide the means for health and safety monitoring through technology.

As borders reopen, safety and security will be given vital importance by not only the travel businesses but also customers. A person boarding an aeroplane or a bus would actively be on the lookout for a safe environment; although, travel itself seems unlikely. In a study conducted by Srishti Sahathe Consultant Clinical Psychologist of Fortis in Anandapurit was revealed that the idea of travel post-pandemic is not as widely desired as popularly believed.

As reported by India TV, Saha believes that there will be a spike in mysophobia (an irrational fear of contamination), and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which is characterised by irrational thoughts and fears. Additionally, she mentioned that the constant suggestions about washing hands and keeping surfaces clean is being internalised by people on an extreme level, as they are now compulsive about their hygiene.

If travel were to be normalised again, a collaboration between the Government and the airline industry would be vital as they would have to align their health and aviation policies, guidelines, and priorities.

(Sources: TravelPerk, World Economic Forum, CNBC)

Edited by Nayana Dhanya

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