By Dickson Igwe, Contributor
The global travel and tourism industry will inevitably contract and decline significantly, as the coronavirus pandemic continues its devastating journey through the world economy.
For the Caribbean, a region wholly dependent upon tourism for its economic existence, this will be no easy time.
Social distancing on airplanes; testing and quarantine of travellers upon arrival; the shutdown of the cruise industry; the shutdown of the global leisure industry; the devastation of the hotel and resort industry; the collapse of global airlines; the steep recession in the USA and Western Europe; huge jobless numbers comparable to the depression of the 1930s; the preceding woes are already upon us. Commerce is a social enterprise.
The exchange of products and services requires proximity between individuals in spite of the virtual world of digitization and algorithm. Social exchange is integral to a functioning economy.
When consumers are required to socially isolate; when markets are shut down; when consumers are terrified; with politicians that cannot be trusted giving delusional and unscientific advice; economic matters simply worsen.
How to not manage the pandemic
The USA and UK have been observed as models of how ‘not’ to manage the pandemic socially and economically. The failure to completely lockdown and close borders has allowed a trojan horse of death and destruction, into the UK. Then, Donald Trump’s idea that a robust economy can function side by side with an uncontrolled pandemic is ‘absurd’.
Countries that have managed to control the infection rate of Corona Virus are treading cautiously on reopening their economies. And that includes their travel and tourism industries.
The future of travel may well include a third protocol. Travellers will be asked upon arrival at specific countries to show documentary evidence they are virus free and then further undergo testing, before being allowed entry.
A second passport, a medical document, showing a medical and vaccination narrative is on the cards. Travellers from countries such as the USA, UK and specific European states, where the Pandemic remains uncontrolled, will in addition to the preceding, be required to undergo quarantine and extra testing, before gaining entry into countries that have managed to control their infection rates.
Travel between countries with low infection rates such as Australia and New Zealand will allow travel between themselves subject to the requisite testing and medical protocols.
Travel and tourism
Travel and tourism will only open up after the virus has been eradicated. But that may be towards the end of 2021, depending upon whether a vaccination, cure, or both, are in place.
In the meanwhile, Caribbean countries must learn to adopt resilience and patience until such a time as when the tourism and travel industry begins to recover: no easy task as people go unemployed, facing certain hardship that will last for many months.
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