As we all continue to combat the coronavirus pandemic by staying home and implementing social distancing procedures when we do venture out, many are looking forward to taking a vacation – escaping to somewhere fun, surrounded by people, and making happy memories after months cooped up. The question is, what will that vacation look like and how does the travel industry have to change in order to accommodate the “new normal”?
Focus on Health. The one thing that will be on everyone’s mind as they begin to plan any vacation is their health and the health of those that they will be around. Crowded airplanes and packed cruises may be a thing of the past as we will most likely need to continue with some form of social distancing. You may even need to provide proof of good health when traveling by plane or cruise ship – especially if you are in one of the more vulnerable health groups.
Airlines. When non-essential flights return, air travel will be much different than before the pandemic hit. Most airlines will concentrate on high-traffic routes and may even eliminate or severely curtail those flights that weren’t profitable. Most travelers will prefer direct flights to limit exposure, and flight attendants and crews will most likely wear masks and gloves as they interact with their customers. Expect to see a ban on middle-seat occupancy and changes to boarding procedures as airlines practice social distancing as well.
Cruises. One of the hardest hit in the travel industry will be cruise lines. As we’ve seen over the past few months, cruises have been hammered with COVID-19 outbreaks, and many struggled (and are still struggling) to find ports where their passengers could disembark. This is on top of the other periodic outbreaks aboard cruise ships that we’ve heard about in the news for years. Cruises tend to get a bad rap as far as health and safety are concerned, but this is much different. There are several hurdles that cruise lines need to overcome in order to bounce back after the pandemic ends – especially trust.
Cruise lines are going to have to prove to the public that their ships are not a health risk. Endless buffets will be a thing of the past, with glass protecting food and servers in masks and gloves handing you your selections. Casinos, theaters, swimming pools and even dining rooms will limit the number of passengers allowed in at any given time. Cruise lines will have to make the public aware of what they are doing to keep the ships clean and their procedures to contain onboard illnesses. In fact, most will probably increase their medical staffs and facilities to ensure they can handle medical emergencies.
Another issue that cruise ships will need to explore is air circulation. Right now, most cruises rely on recirculated air, thus making it very easy for viruses and other illnesses to spread throughout the ship. We’ll most likely see systems put in place that bring fresh air into common areas and cabins, and an increase in sanitizing procedures.
When it comes to handling sick passengers, cruise lines will have to improve their coordination with ports around the world, ensuring that remaining passengers are protected and there is little threat to the port city as they disembark.
Hotels and Rentals. In addition to airlines and cruise lines, the hotel industry will have its own challenges. Hotels will need to promote their cleanliness, and will contend with a slow return of leisure, business and group travel. Rentals will have a bit more to overcome as people continue to be concerned about health conditions and cleanliness of those vacation homes.
In all cases, expect to find discounted rates as the travel industry tries to rebound. Travel agents, like Luxury Destinations Concierge, will have the most up-to-date information to help you plan your trip, and will be there for you in case your plans change. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437. We’re happy to answer your questions and make your next vacation memorable!
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