The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) released some predictions on Thursday of how it believes the travel sector will re-emerge after the coronavirus pandemic.
WTTC says the sector will face a gradual return to travel over the coming months as a “new normal” emerges before a vaccine becomes available on a mass scale. Travel is likely to return first to domestic markets with staycations, the organization said, then to a country’s nearest neighbors before expanding across regions, and then finally across continents to welcome the return of journeys to long-haul international destinations.
WTTC believes younger travelers in the 18-35 age group, who appear to be less vulnerable to COVID-19, may also be among the first to begin travelling once again.
“A quick and effective restart of travel will only happen if governments around the world agree to a common set of health protocols developed by the private sector, such as those we’ve outlined,” Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO. “These must provide the reassurance travelers and authorities need, using new technology, to offer hassle-free, pre-vaccine ‘new normal’ travel in the short term.”
WTTC’s plan includes concrete steps and coordinated actions, including new standards and protocols, to encourage travel through collaboration from associations who represent the different travel sectors.
Hotels are developing protocols based on learnings from offering free rooms to frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 crisis.
There will be new protocols for check-in involving digital technology; hand sanitizer stations at frequent points including where luggage is stored; contactless payment instead of cash; using stairs more often than lifts where the 2 meter rule can be harder to maintain; and fitness equipment being moved for greater separation among other examples.
Cruise operators will take further measures to ensure ships are free of COVID-19 including staff wearing gloves at all times which are then frequently changed; and more frequent room cleaning.
Travelers at airports will find themselves tested before they fly and upon arrival at their destination airport. They can expect to see social distancing measures at the airport and during boarding, as well as wearing masks while onboard.
Aircrafts will also be subject to intensive cleansing regimes. These measures will be combined with contact-tracing, via mobile app, that will allow flights to leave airports COVID-19-free.