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Light At The Tunnel’s End: What The COVID-19 Vaccine News Means For Travel Industry

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Approaching the end of 2020, it is safe to say that the travel industry has been hitting one of its lowest point of all time following the Covid-19 pandemic. But hope began to arise as the news of successful vaccine emerged on early December. But what would it meant for the industry in general? Are we getting closer to the breakthrough of this grim period? When will we be able to go on our holiday again, and what’s the procedure? Hellobali compiles words and predictions from experts across the Globe through this article below…

1. Phases

The recent vaccine developments has been described by some experts as “the light at the end of the tunnel.” Travel stocks, including those of cruise and airline companies, rallied on the news, indicating a high level of anticipation for a turnaround in travel pegged to the promise of the vaccines. After speaking with infectious disease and travel industry experts, it’s clear that travelers should be thinking about the coming months in three phases: prevaccine, postvaccine, and post-COVID. The length of time and the conditions of each phase are variable—if there’s one thing we’ve learned during this pandemic, it’s that nothing is set in stone. Patience and perseverance remain valuable assets for some time. Pre-vaccine is the period we are in right now, before a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available. Post-vaccine is the period that will encompass the vaccine rollout, which could last several months. Then post-COVID is the time after the global coronavirus pandemic is declared officially over.

2. ‘Old’ or ‘New’ Normal?

With the ongoing good news about the vaccines, the travel world is experiencing a big surge in search and bookings for 2021, with Easter ski trips, long-haul holidays in the beach breaks being particularly popular. But it is unlikely that we will return to the ‘old’ routine for taking a vacation trip, as travelling abroad would also depend on what precautions other countries are taking; at least on the ‘pre-vaccine’ phase, which can take anywhere from months to years. The travel industry has welcomed the news, though, as a positive development. There hasn’t been any official word on this yet, but some are speculating that an immunity passport – or e-vaccination certificate – may be required in the future, to show that the holder has been vaccinated against coronavirus. It’s an idea that the World Health Organisation is looking into in order to encourage safe travel between countries; something that is, of course, being encouraged by the aviation industry. According to James Hardiman, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, who covers the leisure sector, travel likely won’t return to normal until the vaccine is widely available and the majority of people have received it. Most of the online travel companies Hardiman covers are pointing to 2022 as the first “normal” year, he said.

3. Hope Ahead

When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March, the travel and hospitality industries were among the sectors most immediately and severely hit. Closed borders, shelter-in-place orders, companies cancelling business travel, and a general fear of catching the highly contagious virus brought travel to a halt. But positive news this month of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in development have been encouraging, with many stocks rising in response. If the vaccines are successfully implemented, there will be lesser restrictions and protocols applied as well for travelers. Specific protocols will remain despite the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine, but the government might relax several stringent rules and regulations. This relaxation of travel restrictions will make movement a lot more comfortable. The economy will also feel the impact, especially in countries whose economy relies solely on tourism as the primary revenue source. Also, a profitable business in the travel industry will increase the industry’s employment rate. Several people working in the industry who lost their jobs and income source can now have hope of getting employed. Work in startups will also greatly rekindle, and some will also have the opportunity to reopen if now shut down completely during the pandemic.

4. Face of Future Travel Industry

As mentioned above, the travel industry will not look the same after the pandemic. There will be a regulation overhaul in several aspects of travel regulations, and one that the experts still discuss is the requirement of vaccination for those who wish to travel to a country. While many destinations make proof of a recent negative COVID test mandatory, to date, no country has announced plans to make proof of a vaccination mandatory. The idea of countries requiring proof of certain vaccinations is not new, though. For example, dozens of countries require travelers to be vaccinated against yellow fever before they can enter. But since COVID-19 is a global pandemic, eventually the government will have to make a certain rules to ensure the safety of people en masse, whether those who enter the country and the country’s own population alike, especially in the ‘prevaccine’ phase. But once we are truly in a post-COVID world, travel restrictions related to the pandemic should be a thing of the past. People will feel more comfortable traveling and the numbers of travelers crisscrossing the country and the globe should start to climb back up. “If, theoretically, we had a wonderfully effective vaccine that gave you genuine solid protection for the long term and if the virus doesn’t mutate, well, then I think we can get back to near normal, yes,” says Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University and an infectious diseases expert. “I would think toward the second half of the year, particularly the fourth quarter of next year, we will go back to a semblance of normal.”

 

Here’s hoping!

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