What a strange, long year it has been! Grounded at home and stopped in our tracks by something so minuscule, and yet, so powerful. Nobody saw it coming, although this is not the first pandemic to have struck the world. What is different about this one is the fact that we are now so much more connected globally, so its impact has been (and continues to be) huge! On the other hand, we have a much better understanding and better technology than we did 100 years ago, the last time a devastating pandemic wreaked havoc around the world.
We now have not just one but several vaccines that are beginning to get rolled out. It is a great relief that offers much hope, although it will take some time before will be distributed to all the millions of people who need and want it. Nonetheless, it has been brutal and millions of people are suffering, not just from the direct effects of the virus on their health, but also from its economic consequences.
And yet, almost all of us agree, things had to change, especially in the tourism sector. Before the pandemic, the biggest problem in tourism was over-tourism: too many people trying to visit the same places at the same time. Some destinations had reached crisis level.
Furthermore, air-travel, despite being one of the biggest contributors of global warming, was steadily expanding. And, more people travelling throughout the world also meant more hotel developments, which leads to habitat destruction in the host countries. None of these issues was managed sustainably.
But when the virus took hold, suddenly flights were grounded and places that are normally bustling with tourists, fell silent. Not for long, though. During the summer, supposedly safe corridors were opened so that people could still go on holiday. Unfortunately, the strategy did not work too well. While many grabbed the opportunity to go and have some fun in the sun others stayed at home. Domestic tourism managed to scrape through.
Exotic, long-distance destinations suffered the brunt of the crisis as far as tourism is concerned. Tourism is a huge economic factor in just about all countries. With visitor numbers falling so drastically, the impact has been severe, especially in countries that have no social welfare safety net. People’s lives are on the line.
The big question now is, how can we ‘build back better?’ We do not want to return to all the unsustainable practices and ‘overtourism’. But travel is in our blood, and there is no question that we will want to go adventuring again – and sooner, rather than later.
How can travel be made safe going forward?
I think, we have to accept the fact that the Corona virus is not going to go away completely any time soon. There will always be outbreaks. Chances are that the situation will be dealt with in a similar way as Yellowfever: travellers will have to produce proof of vaccination at the border.
In the meantime, travel providers, destination managers, tour operators and hotel owners are implementing health and safety protocols. Many have revised their cancellation policy to give travelers confidence that they will not lose their payments in case of a sudden lockdown. Stringent protocols are being implemented and service staff is receiving health and safety training. This is already happening as some countries have tentatively opened their borders again and are once again receiving tourist.
Sacred Earth Travel is committed to keeping our travellers, as well as our travel partners, their staff and the destinations in which we travel, covid safe.
It is impossible to post all the measures of every provider since they are constantly changing and adapting to the situation. But if you have questions regarding the safety protocol of any of our partners or want to learn more about the entry regulations of any of our destinations, feel free to ask.
Detailed information regarding specific suppliers will be made available at the time of planning an itinerary. It is in everybody’s interest that these measures are followed and respected. We are all dreaming of traveling again! To make that dream come true we must respect these rules and care for each other.