What will travel be like in the future?
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in closures of borders and travel restrictions on an unprecedented scale. Given the way things currently stand, it’s hard to envision a time when global movement goes back to the same pre-pandemic levels.
But whatever happens, the expert voices are clear – there will be fundamental changes in the way we travel. In this Pacific Prime article, we’ll explore how the travel experience will change and comment on what the new travel trends are.
How will the travel experience change?
Airports are notorious for the spread of germs as travelers from around the world converge in one place. To combat this, a shift towards ‘contactless travel’ will occur as it reduces the number of touchpoints at an airport. Obvious measures include online check-in, self-bag-drop-offs, and cashless payments. However, we could also see more widespread use of biometrics as a form of identity. Imagine boarding the flight using your face instead of a passport.
On a similar note, we also have to become comfortable with digital identities like the ‘Known Traveller Digital Identity’, as they’ll allow government authorities and industry professionals to implement touchless solutions when assessing risk. A big part of this in the post-pandemic world will be information about underlying health conditions. Of course, privacy concerns exist so these changes would have to be met with regulation.
Just like 9/11 transformed the aviation industry by ramping up security, experts believe that this pandemic is ‘the new terrorism’ and will make health checks a fact of life at airports. There are already industry guidelines on health screenings being drawn up by European authorities, so don’t be surprised if thermal scanners or disinfectant sprays become a common sight at the airport. In fact, some airlines like Emirates are even going one step further by conducting on-site testing for COVID-19.
Likewise, travelers could also be subject to health controls upon arriving at their destination. The health authorities at the border have always been wary of those arriving from high-risk countries as they are more vulnerable to disease outbreaks. But, given COVID-19, stringent measures will likely be expanded for all incoming travelers in the future. Once a vaccine is out, chances are travelers might also be asked for proof of being vaccinated before being allowed entry.
Social distancing and hygiene concerns
Social distancing and hygiene concerns have taken over many aspects of our lives – and things will be no different when it comes to travel. Expect airports to restrict entry to non-passengers, impose the mandatory wearing of masks, disinfect all checked luggage and cabin bags, space out queuing and seating, and much more. You may also see autonomous cleaning robots patrol the terminals and kill microbes with ultraviolet light.
It will also be the same story in the air. Planes will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between flights, which airline marketing strategy firm SimpliFlying says will significantly increase turnaround time. Airlines may also provide full personal protective gear for cabin crew, block out middle seats, and cease unnecessary services that increase the risk of transmission. For instance, Hong Kong airlines have stopped offering all in-flight meals.
What are the new travel trends?
It is likely that the short term will mainly see essential travels, such as trips by international business travelers. However, those with underlying health conditions may be hesitant to start traveling again. Employers will have to be sensitive to the concerns of their staff, including protecting their mental health, and remain flexible in their approach. Video conferencing could still be used alongside international travel to reduce the number of trips needed.
When it comes to leisure travel, we’ll likely see a preference for staycations and domestic trips over exotic destinations further afield. Of course, there will be incentives to travel in the form of discounts by airlines, travel companies, and hotels. But those most willing to take the plunge and make longer journeys will probably be younger travelers. It is not likely that we’ll see retirees checking off their travel bucket list in the near future.
Though it’s common for many countries to require visitors to possess short term health insurance, this will likely be the norm in the post-pandemic world. COVID-19 has had a major impact on the healthcare sector, so making short term health insurance mandatory for tourists will help take the pressure off of national health systems. Ofcourse, not all health insurance policies were created equally. Travelers will have to be aware of the specifics of their policy as many, for example, exclude coverage during a pandemic.
How can Pacific Prime help?
As a leading global health insurance brokerage with over two decades of experience, Pacific Prime can help travelers learn about insurance coverage by country. Whether it’s comparing insurance plans or selecting the right one to suit your needs, feel free to contact us today for impartial advice and receive an obligation-free quote.
Outside of work, Suphanida enjoys traveling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.
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