The Future of the Travel Industry

Covid-19 has changed almost every aspect of our lives in the most unexpected ways, from how we interact with friends down to how we will travel in the future. It appears like we’re going to make some adjustments once we’re allowed to travel again.

As early as now, we’re already seeing how the pandemic is shifting the industry as we know it, with countries requiring visitors to submit a pre-departure negative Covid-19 test and also do a mandatory quarantine upon arrival depending on the country. Some may not even allow for entry into the country unless there’s proof of vaccination.

Airline companies have been hit hard too, suffering from massive losses due to the sharp drop in the demand for air travel.

Singapore’s tourism industry is no exception as well. Travel companies and local tourism businesses have been getting creative to come up with ways to bear the brunt of the pandemic.

Even as the worldwide vaccination campaign ramps up, it seems like it may still take some time before we can safely explore and hop on a plane again. One thing’s for sure, though: travelling isn’t going to be how it was before, at least for a while.

Today, I’d like to share what I think the travel industry will look like as the whole world continues to battle the pandemic.

When will the travel industry bounce back?

You may be wondering when we will be able to safely travel for leisure again. I believe that’s a question that nobody can give an accurate answer to yet.

The good news is, the travel industry is slowly getting back on its feet. We’ve seen that domestic travel has resumed in some countries, while others have partially reopened their borders to select international visitors.

It’s hard to speculate when the travel industry will make its full recovery given the unpredictable nature of the virus. Right now, we’re facing the threat of multiple Covid-19 variants too, so the situation can change in a matter of weeks.

Based on the current travel guidelines in most countries, I’m certain that fully vaccinated visitors from low-risk countries will be the first ones in line to travel (or those from countries that have managed to get the pandemic under control.)

Fortunately, Singapore is considered a low-risk territory by many countries, which can help our local tourism recover faster. It’s on track to hit the vaccination numbers needed for herd immunity too.

Here are the changes we can expect once we’re allowed to travel again.

1. Passports won’t be enough

In the era of post-Covid-19 travel, you’ll have to carry more than just your passport.

If you want to travel overseas, proof that you’re fully vaccinated will be required for entry and to be exempt from mandatory quarantine. Some countries are currently following this, such as Canada, South Korea, France, Germany, and other EU nations.

If proof of vaccination isn’t required for entry, then you may be subjected to a mandatory 2-week quarantine.

The truth is, some countries wouldn’t risk allowing someone to enter without any form of immunity. That’s the policy commonly observed in international travel today, and I believe that’s not likely to change soon.

Some countries have a preference for types of vaccines too. For example, you may be denied entry if you’ve received a vaccine that’s not recognised by the country of your destination, or may even have to serve longer stay home notices.

However, if you’re travelling for business purposes, you’ll need proof that your visit is strictly for economic purposes. Besides proof of vaccination, you may need to prepare other documents to prove you’re a business traveller as well.

2. Expect longer lines at the airport

Given that we’ve had to put our travel plans on hold over the past year, I’m sure that most of us can’t wait to book that ticket and hop on a plane at the earliest day possible.

I know that the excitement would lead to a huge surge of ecstatic travellers lining up at the airport, which we’ve seen in countries that seem to have the outbreak under control.

One thing you’re going to see at airports are queues that don’t seem to end, as travellers wait in line to show proof of vaccination and go through a series of health and security checks.

If you prefer being early on the day of your flight, you may need to be at the airport 4 to 6 hours earlier just to be sure!

3. Travel will have off-seasons

According to research, countries may have to adjust their lockdown measures back and forth to allow room for healthcare systems to breathe.

Due to multiple Covid-19 variants, countries that had managed to control the outbreak previously may suddenly find themselves going into lockdown. Some countries are even returning to lockdown currently, so it’s likely that travel may have unpredictable seasons.

This means that the windows of opportunity for travel could only last for weeks or even days. While we may be allowed to travel at a certain point, our situation and that of our destination can change easily within weeks.

That’s certainly what’s happening in the US and Israel right now. These countries were able to partially lift mask mandates and are now experiencing another surge in cases.

Travel restrictions will surely affect how we travel in the future, so keeping yourself updated and adaptive is the only way to make efficient travel plans.

4. Limited destination options

There’s no doubt that countries around the world have different ways of handling the pandemic.