What a year this month as been.
The first story Travel Market Report covered about coronavirus (COVID-19) was almost two months ago in January when five U.S. airports started screening incoming travelers from China after the first U.S. person, a Washington state resident, tested positive. At the time, the virus had caused the deaths of at least six people and impacted hundreds more in China. But things changed quickly.
Since that first story, the whole world has been touched by coronavirus and the story has gone from a big travel industry news topic to a worldwide concern that has forced cities into quarantine, schools into closures, professional sports into hiatus, and more.
There’s been an army of bad news that has come with the virus, particularly in our industry, and trying to wrap your head around the impact it is having on travel, on global economies, on workplaces everywhere, seems impossible.
The worst news right now is that the virus spreading and numbers are bound to get even higher as the U.S. and other countries start more widespread testing. As of March 19, COVID-19 has spread to 176 countries and territories, infecting 225,724 people worldwide. As testing improves, we can expect that number to rise.
The good news, is that recoveries are vastly outnumbering deaths caused by the virus—as of March 19, 85,831 people have recovered from infection while 9,278 were unable to—and that countries that were first infected, in particular China and South Korea, are reporting less and less new infections each day and are starting to get ready for their roads back to recovery.
What will happen in the world of travel is anyone’s guess but we’ve seen the industry come back from crippling news time and time again and there’s very little evidence that this time will be any different. We should be prepared for the worst but hoping for the best.
If you’re hurting right now, know that you are not alone. These are extraordinary circumstances that are impacting just about everyone who is participating in the global economy. Some events, caused by concerns over COVID-19, are truly once-in-a-lifetime happenings like cruise lines voluntarily stopping sailing for 30 days, or Disneyland choosing to close its doors for only the third time in history, or Delta grounding 300 of its aircraft. All of us in travel are with you in dropping our jaws to these events.
It is okay to feel the pain, there is plenty of it to go around, but it’s worth looking toward, and preparing for, the future at the same time.
We have already covered how those who booked through Costco Travel, a thorn in the trade’s side since it started selling travel, have fared through the crisis. We’re also looking at what advisors have done—the long hours they’ve spent making sure clients get home and making sure vacation dollars get reimbursed—during the crisis. Who do you think got everybody home? It’s always the agents, the ones answering the phones, who get people home. They got them home after 9/11, they got people home during hurricanes, and they did as travel restrictions started piling up this month.
We hope those stories will reaffirm your value, help you improve for the future, and, even if you’re suffering, you’ll realize how valuable you are to the travel industry, just how much support you have, and that, as goes agents, so goes the travel industry.
We wanted you to know that, through this crisis, Travel Market Report is here to help. Whether that’s keeping you updates on supplier policies and schedule changes on our COVID-19 landing page, or preparing you for the upswing when things do come back online, we want all travel advisors to know that we are standing with you.
If there’s anything that advisors need to know or something you want answers for, our email inbox (email@example.com) is open to all.
- Daniel McCarthy, TMR Editor-in-chief, and the rest of the TMR team.