Me mam rung me up the other day to talk about a trip to Tenerife that we’re having over Christmas this year. We’re off to an all-inclusive for a jolly where, like millions of Brits a year, we’re going to eat too much, drink too much and hog all of the karaoke machines.
We’re quite lucky insofar that it’s not until December when, hopefully, most of this has all calmed down and we’re able to travel and there won’t be any restrictions in place. But what about the next couple of months?
How will travel look for us all in the foreseeable future? Let’s have a look…
The End of Tourism?
Many are currently ringing the bell for the ‘end of tourism’ as we know it, and it’s certainly a possibility – especially considering how things were going before lockdown.
Take Barcelona for example. I used to live there and like a prized tool I got a flat just off Las Ramblas. Every day I would go to work and I’d be inundated with tourists, and on the weekend – it would be about a thousand times worse. For years now the residents of the city have been fighting back against tourism, in one strange case even installing tourist ‘lanes’ in the Gothic quarter so that they could walk as slowly as they liked.
Another example is that of Thailand, a country that relies heavily on its tourism, with vast swathes of the population working in industries that are directly influenced by people visiting from abroad. Well, you know that beautiful beach that was in the film ‘The Beach’ – well they decided to close it in 2018 – because of litter and pollution and basically idiotic tourists just wrecking the joint.
So there was already the beginnings of a backlash to tourism before the worldwide lockdown – and will this continue after everyone is allowed to travel again?
All signs point to no. With such a prolonged period of time without any visitors at all, whole economies are failing, especially in countries with very fragile tourism industries.
Spain for example, counts tourism as 15% of its GDP, and Jamaica – well they count on tourism to provide around 35% of their national income – something they will be very keen to get back once lockdown is over – leaving many of the ecological or environmental factors at the back of their minds (for the time being).
The aim over the next few months for these tourism-relying countries is certainly more, more, more and some have even gone so far to offering benefits and freebies to people willing to travel there in 2020, offering up free flights, free hotel nights and more.
It’s certainly not the end of tourism yet – and it looks like the tourism industry will come out firing on all cylinders once people can freely travel around the world – solely to try to recuperate the lost earnings in the year so far.
UK Restriction Lists
Okay, so destinations are wanting visitors as soon as bloody possible – but can we travel?!
Well, considering the government’s shambolic handling of the whole pandemic, and the fact that we’re right at the top of deaths per capita in the world – many countries still have the UK on their restriction lists – meaning that we’re unable to visit unless we’re considered ‘safe’.
This week saw New Zealand confirm 2 new cases after 24 days free of COVID-19 and surprise, surprise – the culprits were to women travelling from Britain. Yeah, sorry about that you lot!
Anyway, the point is, as other countries have come out of lockdown and have started easing their restrictions, we’re still very much in the throws of the pandemic, and no matter what the government tells us – and no matter how many branches of Primark they let open – we still have daily cases popping up throughout the country and indeed much higher rates than before in more regional areas (like Manchester).
The list of restrictions is very long, with each country taking in visitors and tourism in different ways as they come out of lockdown. Cyprus for example are currently letting people in “from countries regarded as having dealt well with the pandemic” – well that’s us out then!
Greece is demanding tests upon arrival and 7-days self isolation, France; 14-days self isolation, Spain; 14-days self isolation and Germany is a big no-no for any tourists until at least August.
It should be stated though that these restrictions are always changing and it seems that many of them will start to be completely relaxed by the end of June / beginning of July.
As we slowly get released from these dreaded ‘restricted’ lists (assuming of course that we don’t have a second spike in infections), the airlines and travel agencies will be clamouring for our business, and considering everyone has been stuck inside for the last 3 months – a lot of people will be looking for a holiday.
There’s a lot of things that are at play here now though, such as the fact that people on furlough may be confused as to how it has affected holidays, huge numbers of redundancies and unemployment meaning that people can’t afford to go on holiday and of course – just what will it be like in hotels, bars and beaches abroad with social distancing rules in place?
There are a lot of questions flying around, and many of them are completely unanswerable at the moment. Just like in the UK, the hospitality and tourism industries around the world will be experimenting with different methods and advice on the best way to reduce the spread of the virus – so things are going to vary wildly.
Getting to these countries and on holiday though – that looks like it’s going to be the easy part. Most airlines are ready and rearing to go – hoping to get their expensive planes off the ground and making money for them once again.
Ryanair, Easyjet and Jet2 are set to begin flying again as soon as possible, with most of them pencilling in July for resuming their operations (albeit with a considerably reduced capacity).
Just this week TUI have announced plans to re-start their flights and holiday programmes from July also, as they are “confident that things will restart soon“. Again though, they’re looking at a slow start working at “around 30% of original capacity in Q4 2020.” They are also reporting a 6% increase in winter holidays and a “promising” outlook for 2021.
What about prices? Well, I’ve just had a look on the Ryanair site and I can get to Alicante for 4 days in July for £80 return – which is pretty bloody good actually. And Easyjet can do a week in Nice at the end of August for £70 return. So there are still flights knocking about and because they’re looking to recuperate some money back – they’re actually quite good value.
I suspect that over the next month or two the airlines will increase capacity even more, indicating that there’ll be loads more cheap flights going for September and October – for me the perfect time to go on holiday anyway. No kids innit.
The Rise of the ‘Staycation’
With all of this uncertainty though, many are proclaiming 2020 to be the year of the Staycation – or basically – a holiday in the UK. This trend might even continue further, as people become more aware of the environmental impact of air travel, as well as the possibility of increasing costs as a result of future taxation of fuel.
Anyway, the UK certainly isn’t short on places to visit, and we’re pretty much spoilt for choice here in Manchester with the Lake District and the Peak District on our doorstep, Snowdon not too far and the Highlands a nice long road trip away.
We’ve got some fantastic walks, tourist attractions and loads more to do – meaning that it might just be easier overall if you stayed here instead of all of the hassle of going to another country.
The question of what’s going on with holidays and tourism after the lockdown is an extremely complex one to tackle – mostly due to the fact that there are so many different rules, restrictions and bits of advice to follow.
If you’ve got a holiday already booked – the best source of advice for it all is the people you’ve actually booked with, there’s a lot of contradictory information out there – and so keeping abreast of what each operator is doing is probably the best course of action.
My holiday to Tenerife better be okay though – I’ve been looking forward to it for about 5 hours now…