As the coronavirus pandemic wears on and we adapt to the uncertainty of our new normal, we can’t help but wonder, will travel ever be the same? Some countries such as Thailand have restarted domestic travel in specific areas (Koh Samui anyone?!) while others have started a “travel bubble” or corridor which are safe zones for international travel i.e. between Australia and New Zealand.
We consider what might be the new normal when it comes to travel.
In addition to health declarations and temperature checks, some airlines are using disposable plastic covers on seats as well as leaving the middle seat vacant. Most airlines have stopped in-flight food and beverage services also.
Bigger cities and key airports with large numbers of travellers passing through have even more stringent checks, for instance, Beijing requires all visitors to take a nucleic acid test upon arrival or a temperature scan just to enter the subway. And if you’re sporting a fever? An alarm sounds, notifying everyone around you.
Hotels and villas are taking sanitization to a whole new level. In addition to compulsory masks and temperature checks, stringent SOPs such as the increased disinfecting of elevator buttons, door handles, handrails have been implemented and even regular crisis management training for all staff. Guests also have to fill out health declaration forms.
Sharing a meal at a restaurant looks different than it used to. Gone are the days of sharing plates or even chatting with your neighbour as social distancing requires tables be kept approximately six to eight feet apart. Some restaurants are even facing lone customers to the wall to enjoy their meal.
Tourist sites are opening—for locals
The borders of countries opening back up, like China, Vietnam, and Thailand remain closed to foreigners. But despite the absence of tourists, some attractions have reopened for locals. All major tourist sites like the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Summer Palace are accepting visitors. However, to avoid a crowd, there is a daily quota. For example, only 5,000 people can enter the Forbidden City daily and tickets need to be pre-booked online.
Elsewhere, Koh Samui’s beaches are open, as are key destinations in Vietnam such as Halong Bay and the hiking trails of Sapa with tours with a maximum of 10 people allowed.
Will travel ever be the same again?
The way we travel isn’t going to look like what we’re used to, not for a long time and maybe never again. However, the mood remains largely optimistic and ready to move forward, even in the face of uncertainty. Were much more conscious of the freedom travel offers and yes, although things are restarting again, reality requires a little more adapting for us to fully function again.