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Future of Travel: Introduction

Even before Marco Polo, human beings have had the irresistible urge to travel.  That’s why the Polynesians colonized the islands of the South Pacific, why our indigenous people crossed the Bering Sea, and why early humans migrated out of Africa to populate the entire planet.  It’s in our DNA to travel and explore new places.  So, despite the recent COVID-19 crisis the question is not if, but when we will travel again.  “The sooner the better,” we say, of course!  And, what will it look like?  It will certainly be different from what we are used to.

This is the first of a series of articles I will be writing about how travel may look in the future, post-COVID.

There will be challenges - short-term, mid-term, and long-term; and you can expect the travel experience to evolve in response to these changing needs.   Physical distancing, for instance, will eventually become less important; but will we ever recover from our fear of germs?  I doubt it.

First up we’ll look at the airline industry, which is the “gate keeper” for almost all travel.  It is impossible for the cruise business, or tour business, or hotel industry to rebound until air travel makes everything else possible again.  And we’ll check out other sectors of the travel industry, like cruising, tours, hotels, and travel insurance.  It will all be different when we come out of this “pause.”

To do these articles I have interviewed many executives in various sectors of the industry to get a wide range of views, and look for consensus.  I have encouraged them to speculate on what future travel looks like; which triggered some intriguing insights.   I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how imaginative and positive my interviewees have been.  Daunting as the challenges seem now, everyone in our industry is optimistic about the future and eager to get these changes happening.

It may be bit early to speak of “silver linings” to this terrible crisis, but there will be some positive outcomes.  New standards of personal safety and hygiene benefit everyone.  Efficiencies and innovations resulting from this pandemic will some day make us all marvel at how we ever got by without them in the past.  Ideally, when we leave this crisis far behind travel will be more comfortable, more interesting, more sensitive to the environment, and more respectful of humanity than before.

David, President 
The Travel Group
 

 

 

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