The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) on Friday responded to a USA Today article that tried to answer teh question "Is it ethical to recommend travel while the world is in the grips of a second COVID-19 wave?"
The article highlights the cases both for and against recommending travel as second wave of COVID-19 hits a lot of areas in the United States. The author, Christopher Elliot, lays out both sides but says that writing the article opened his eyes to an industry “fighting for survival and willing to do almost anything to get you traveling again – including possibly exposing you to a deadly virus.”
The article pushes the notion that a consumer’s choice about whether or not to travel comes down to advisors, and suppliers, are doing to influence decisions or to push them to book trips, which has historically not been the case for good, responsible for travel advisors. It’s also equates traveling to a higher risk activity than other everyday activities, though there’s certainly evidence showing why that’s not the case.
ASTA, in a statement from Friday, also said that while there is certainly more risk with traveling now than before COVID-19, “we couldn’t disagree more with the author’s broad-brush conclusion that selling travel of any kind today is unethical" and that since March, thousands of Americans have been able to travel safely everyday, a lot because of the help from ASTA members.
“Such an unqualified proclamation ignores not only the fact that each traveler has her own level of risk tolerance, but also fails to acknowledge the critical role travel advisors play serving their clients when travel is, under anyone’s definition, considered ‘essential,’” ASTA said.
ASTA also said that it’s up to consumers to decide just how comfortable they are with taking risks both in traveling and through living their everyday lives. If a consumer is comfortable traveling, and there is evidence that traveling is just as safe as doing everyday activities, than advisors can be there to assist them.
“Beyond hunkering down alone in your house, no activity is risk-free during this pandemic. The virus is highly infectious, invisible and spreads involuntarily; no one denies that. But people have responsibly resumed all manner of activities by observing recommended safety protocols, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Far better to identify the real culprit for the virus’ spread – the failure to take the appropriate precautions – than to accuse people making an honest living selling travel of acting unethically while dusting off the old ‘they’re only in it for the commissions’ trope.
“While we all wait with great anticipation for a vaccine, we cannot realistically expect that one or more will be widely available until well into next year. Until then, people can and will travel while following the latest public health guidance, testing, health and safety protocols. Risk management does not mean risk elimination and each individual traveler, fully informed by their expert travel advisor, should be able to determine their own tolerance for travel. In our view, following this course is more ethical than completely shuttering an industry that supports 1 in 10 jobs in this country.”