The Rise of the International Travel Bubble
Whole industries and economic ecosystems like travel, airlines, and hospitality have been hit by the arrival of Covid-19. And the end doesn’t seem to be in sight.
We need solutions and we need them fast.
The concept of ‘Travel Bubbles’ has been making headlines but will they be effective?
With most of them still in the conceptualizing stage, it is still a gamble.
On one hand, it can bring some relief to a group of communities and countries that are highly dependent on tourism.
On the other hand, one missed case can shut the whole country again and result in many more deaths.
So what is a ‘Travel Bubble’?
A travel bubble is the concept of a collaboration of countries which will allow movement of people with each other for tourism and leisure activities.
The concept of the travel bubble can be adopted by countries with a low level of COVID-19 cases. However their borders must be with other countries. Bi-lateral agreements will lead the way.
A tight hold on the virus spread and a firm tracking system is a must in place.
But the foremost requirement will be trust. Trust on the system of other countries with processes in place for sanitation, swift testing and managing flow of people will top the chart.
The virtue of trust will also result in a free-flow of tourists without a condition for self-quarantine; where the tourists are more worried about the requirement of quarantine time rather that the travel itself.
How can Travel Bubble become a reality?
While very few countries have started working on this, it will look like a new normal in a few weeks’ time.
The very non-requirement of quarantine will mean that the tourist must obtain a Covid-19 certificate before they leave the country.
Additional testing could be in place once they arrive at their destinations.
Flights have still not agreed on distancing on seat allotment yet, but fewer passengers flying can be worked in the favor.
Each country must be able to track tourists with an app-based tracker.
Travel packages can play a big role in travel bubbles. They will provide definite income to travel companies. It will also contain tourists to a definite set of destinations and make tracking easy. Bhutan can be taken as a reference point for the practice of travel-packages-only-vacation.
Luxury quarantine is another concept that can come to reality. It is most suitable for tourists who love a more relaxed experience at a beachside villa with a view.
The spent per person increases manifolds and the risk of transmission decreases.
Which countries have been planning a Travel Bubble?
The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are the first to introduce a travel bubble amongst them.
Australia and New Zealand have been talking to roll out a travel bubble with each other in the next few weeks.
In Asia, China is considering opening flights to Hong-Kong, Taiwan, Macau and even South-Korea in future.
Israel is in talk for a travel bubble with Greece and Cyprus.
China’s middle class makes a large chunk of tourist population in South-East Asia. But with growing anti-Chinese sentiment, situation could be slow to change.
How will it change travel?
The activity of travel will become much more vigilant in the future. There will be heath certificates in place and a tracker to track you to all your locations.
Travel may also get expensive for the backpackers and budget travelers. Travel and health insurance may become a mandate which will in-turn become expensive.
The risk will always be high. Getting stuck in another country with uncertainty home-quarantines and medical bills will chase people away from the idea of international travel.
However, enthusiasts will find a way and enjoy the taste of vacant beaches and empty tourist attractions to their benefit.