Last week, the UK started the vaccination of care workers, front line staff and elderly people across our nation. With many heralding the day of this challenging season as the “Get out of Jail Free card” I am curious of the impact it will have on future travel implications. There are many people who are cautious about the new vaccine. Don’t get me wrong I applaud the medics, scientists and all those who have worked tirelessly to bring it into being and of course, I am relieved that this could be the start of consumer confidence within the travel sector I belong to. It’s been an unprecedented year, one that has shaped the sector to build ahead in a positive way. Whilst details of the rollout of the vaccine are still not crystal clear, the vaccine news has transformed fear to hope and I suspect will encourage many people to bring forward their travel plans. 2021 could potentially be the start of borders and travel corridors opening up even more broadly with more travellers on the move again.
The covid crisis has been a wake up call within the travel industry. It’s shown me personally how as an industry we can and need to collaborate. We have identified how we are all interconnected. We have learnt how we can each participate in empowerment and partnership globally. Travellers are beginning to understand from their experiences during the pandemic how our actions and choices impact those around us. There is a global reverberation. Covid has been a foretaste of what is to come. What do I mean by this? Let me explain. The challenge ahead for us all is not just the pandemic, it is climate change. As the owner of a travel business, I want to ensure we build back better with partnerships to help us run more effectively and build partnerships to make the business case even more resilient. Surely any business will be addressing ways to survive and recover from the pandemic crisis. Any business should now use this crisis to prepare for the future of travel.
When we begin to travel again, for our holidays and adventures, it is the communities and conservation which need to be addressed as essential elements within the trip. We need to be considering the planet and people. Building purpose into adventures and traveller’s journeys is a great start. The more people are informed and educated before, during and after their travels, the greater the positive impact and pay off all round. Imagine a visitors first time experience to a destination where there are direct benefits for host communities. Economical and social benefits, with employment opportunities for people who are encouraged to stay and work in their communities instead of leaving their homes to seek other opportunities. The income from the travellers and guests stay benefits the host community, complementing their income as they continue their traditional work, cooking authentic dishes, connecting with visitors. The guest experience is enriched as they connect with the local people, learning their knowledge, understanding their traditional skills – a win, win solution to help create economic opportunity. That’s one way we can make travel matter.
Covid has made us all assess how interconnected we are as human beings on the planet. When we start to travel again, for the sake of our planet and the people on it, let us consider planning trips that will benefit those we visit as well as ourselves. As mentioned above, the greatest challenge above covid is climate change, that’s why, in January 2020, we stood alongside a group of like-minded travel companies acknowledging the environment around us and joined a community called Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency. We learn from one another, take responsibility for our actions (at an individual level, company level and industry level) and push for regulatory action, research and development.
As you kiss goodbye to 2020, will you embrace 2021 afresh with a renewed vigour to encourage one another, encounter new relationships and experience efforts of working collectively with partners who align with your principles? Covid, lets hope, may be a challenge behind us in 2021 but climate change is a far greater challenge and one we can tackle together if we use the same methodology of global partnership and collaboration.