The coronavirus is taking a toll on the world’s travel industry. From airlines and cruise ships to hotels and local tour operators around the globe, no travel-related businesses are safe. This leaves people to beg the question – how should you travel during a pandemic? The truth is travel is currently very limited and you should do plenty of research before booking trips during these times.
The Coronavirus’s Effect on the Travel Industry
Since the coronavirus’s arrival last December in Wuhan, China, it has made its way around the world infecting over 230,000 people and taking the lives of over 9,300. The growing concerns have led many countries to close their borders to tourists. Additionally, cruise lines and airlines have canceled trips to certain destinations. Thus, non-essential travel is basically at a halt right now.
Arival, a travel site, recently conducted a survey using almost 600 resellers, tour operators, and other companies prevalent in tourism attractions and activities. Their results were worrisome at best. They found that if the downward booking trend continues it could cause many of these types of businesses to fail.
In fact, roughly 73% of respondents reported that their bookings had declined this year when compared year-to-date with 2019. The other 17% of companies said their bookings were primarily flat-lined. Companies who reported declines said the decline rates were down anywhere from 40% up to 60% from last year. The area that’s been the most affected so far is the Asia Pacific. Yet the scariest part is the declines will more than likely keep increasing as more countries adopt stricter travel rules.
These results are frightening because it increases the risk of many companies failing. Arival estimated that nearly one in every four tour operators, roughly 28%, are at a moderately high risk of failing if travel limitations don’t ease up within three months. Furthermore, if travel restrictions persist for longer than six months the risk of failure for these businesses increase to almost 46%. In other words, when it comes to tour operators two in three are unlikely to survive a year at this pace.
Tour operators are not the only ones affected, cruise lines, airlines, and even hotels are being forced to close routes and locations. These industries are also reporting losses in the billions of dollars. However, many of them will receive “bailouts” and other assistance from governments. Some of these companies will also be able to borrow money by using their assets as collateral. Though they may receive help, there’s no doubt they will report major losses the longer the virus continues.
How to Protect Yourself as a Traveler – Health
Protecting yourself as a traveler in today’s times is essential, both in terms of health and traveler’s insurance.
When it comes to safeguarding against catching the coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) offers some basic suggestions. Here is what they suggest:
- Frequent hand washing – It’s best to wash your hands with soap frequently for a minimum of 20 seconds each time. If soap and water are unavailable you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Social distancing – The virus spreads from person to person via coughing and sneezing. For this reason, the WHO recommends staying at least 3 feet away from anyone displaying these symptoms.
- Do not touch your mouth, eyes, or nose – If you pick the virus up on your hands the easiest method for it to make its way into your body is by toughing these parts of your face.
- Respiratory Hygiene – Be sure to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow while sneezing and coughing. Dispose of the used tissue immediately.
- If you are ill, stay home or seek medical care – If you feel unwell in any way – stay home. If you are experiencing a fever, difficulties breathing, and a cough, call your physician or local coronavirus hotline for advice.
How to Protect Yourself as a Traveler – Travel Insurance
Beware that most travel insurance companies are not covering cancellations caused by the virus. This includes newly purchased policies as well as those who already have annual policies for multi-trips. This is because most companies have strict policies on what they actually cover. The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your trip is to contact your current policyholder directly to ask them if you are covered.
Chances are you may not be covered for an entire cancellation, but some companies may allow you to delay the trip until later in the year. On the other hand, you can always search for new travel insurance companies and try to find one that will cover your exact needs.
What to Consider When Booking A Tour
If you still want to book a tour there are certain things you should keep in mind.
First, you will want to ask tour operators what their refund policy is. Remember that many tour companies may not survive if this problem persists for too long. On the other hand, many tour operators are allowing customers to postpone trips free of charge. This is a bid to keep people booking trips and it seems to be working. The other thing to consider is that certain countries are hit harder by the virus than others.
If you want to book a trip, it’s a great idea to use an app such as A3M Global Monitoring so you can see what countries are hit the hardest in real-time. Such apps will also send you alerts pertaining to your destination and current location. TellMeYourStory is a great place to find lots of video content. Whether you’re looking for stories of those who suffered from the coronavirus or other pertinent information you’ll find lots of authentic videos. In conclusion, don’t let the virus and current situation stop you from booking an upcoming trip.
Doing so may help the tourism industry in a time of need. Though doing so can be scary, be sure to ask the right questions and make sure to choose a provider who will allow you to postpone or cancel if needed.