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  • Good afternoon everyone, this is your captain speaking

  • Many people in the rich world are wondering

  • when they'll next be able to go on a foreign holiday

  • And while the answer to that remains unclear

  • what is more certain

  • is that travel in the post-pandemic world will be different

  • So what will the key changes look like?

  • And what do they mean for holiday-makers

  • business travellers and those working in the industry?

  • Monday afternoon on the beach

  • Sonia came to the Canary Islands for a short break last year

  • and decided to stay

  • The pandemic has changed

  • how many people think about travel

  • and its relationship with their working lives

  • And Sonia is one of a growing number of travellers

  • who are now mixing business and pleasure

  • thanks to the growing acceptability of remote working

  • Before, I was Head of Sales

  • I was basically all the time very busy

  • And when I first arrived, it was like for me, perfect

  • Sonia is combining a prolonged holiday

  • with working from La Palma

  • one of the smallest Canary Islands

  • So we try to find the balance

  • between working and also having a good time

  • and enough time to breathe, travel

  • and see more about the nature

  • According to travel firm Expedia

  • three-quarters of Americans

  • would like to combine work and a holiday

  • And some in the travel industry

  • think working holidays offer opportunities both now

  • and in the future

  • Nacho Rodriguez runs the house Sonia is staying in

  • and says business is booming

  • We've seen a humongous increase in demand

  • A lot of knowledge workers that were based in Dublin

  • in London, they decided to relocate and visit warmer places

  • like the Canary Islands

  • The outlook is bleaker

  • for those offering more traditional accommodation

  • such as hotels and resorts

  • Tourism accounts for 40% of jobs on the islands

  • But the number of visitors in December

  • was 81% lower than the year before

  • In the past few months

  • Nacho has helped hotel owners fill their empty rooms

  • with remote workers

  • And even the regional government

  • is coming to him for advice

  • on how to get more people to the islands

  • Certainly the interest of the regional government has increased

  • because traditional tourists weren't coming

  • Therefore they had the urge to understand

  • what other alternatives they could promote

  • But it remains to be seen

  • whether the numbers of people combining work and a holiday

  • will rise in the post-pandemic world

  • And for now this is only an option

  • open to a privileged minority

  • So it will take much more than an influx of digital nomads

  • to restore visitors to pre-pandemic levels

  • The reason for this

  • is that the devastation to international travel

  • caused by covid-19 is like nothing seen before

  • Prior to the pandemic

  • the number of international tourists

  • had been rising fairly steadily for the past 30 years

  • But last year the number of people travelling

  • dropped to levels last seen in the 1980s

  • And one sector that is suffering as a result is air travel

  • When we had the 9/11 terrorist attacks

  • or the global financial crisis

  • we didn't see air travel fall by more than 3% in a calendar year

  • whereas last year it fell 66%

  • No one can say when

  • or even if flying is going to recover

  • The best guess from industry trade association IATA

  • is that flights could be back at 2019 levels

  • in the next three years

  • But the recovery could take much longer

  • The prospects of recovery for long-haul flights

  • look particularly grim

  • This is because long-haul carriers

  • rely on business fares

  • to subsidise the cheap seats at the back of the plane

  • And the pandemic has hit corporate trips hard

  • According to a poll conducted in December

  • …89% of firms

  • had cancelled most or all international business travel

  • And although this may pick up

  • the consensus among most analysts

  • is that between 20 and 25% of work trips

  • could be gone for good

  • Which is bad news for legacy airlines

  • Business travel is a really important sector

  • particularly the long-haul airlines

  • because it's really the driver of profitability

  • It's the driver of the financial viability of the routes

  • Several long-haul carriers have already been bailed out with state aid

  • But it's not clear what happens when the money needs to be repaid

  • So, fares on some long-haul routes

  • look set to risemeaning fewer people will be able

  • to afford exotic holidays

  • But the outlook for short-haul flights looks sunnier

  • The sector is set to make a quicker recovery

  • Many budget airlines are less reliant on business fares

  • Some, like Europe's largest airline Ryanair

  • have used the pandemic

  • to cut costs further

  • to keep their fares low

  • We've lowered our labour costs

  • We've lowered our aircraft costs

  • We're negotiating recovery discounts with a lot of our airports

  • And fuel is lower

  • I think it is the most exciting era in my 25 or 30 years in this business

  • But Michael O'Leary's predictions that planes and beaches in Europe

  • could be busy as soon as this summer

  • may be going too far

  • and have more to do with his famous salesman bravado

  • The company has just had to pull this advert

  • for encouraging travellers to break covid restrictions

  • So you could jab and go

  • And the emergence of new variants of the virus

  • means travel in Europe and other parts of the world

  • is currently getting harder

  • not easier

  • thanks to restrictions such as quarantines and border closures

  • The virus looks set to be a feature of life for years to come

  • and that makes one significant change to travel likely

  • You will have to pack more than just your passport in future

  • Some in the industry

  • believe travellers will have to carry proof of vaccination

  • to leave the country

  • But these so-calledvaccine passports”…

  • are not without problems

  • The rate at which the world is being vaccinated varies

  • and some poorer countries will not get the jab for several years

  • meaning they could be effectively shut out of global travel

  • If you start requiring vaccination or vaccines

  • as a pre-requisite to travel

  • we believe that that's unfair

  • and that's going to drive discrimination

  • and that's going to be impacting not only travel

  • but in other areas

  • Another possibility

  • is that you'll have to travel with a new app on your phone

  • to prove your covid status

  • A variety of digital health apps are currently being trialled

  • that translate a negative covid test into a QR code

  • and allow travellers to prove they are covid-free quickly and easily

  • Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the United Airlines

  • And in time they could become as central to travel as a passport

  • Bye London

  • It should allow trust that the traveller, you know, has been tested

  • and that should give governments the confidence

  • to, you know, remove any restrictions

  • and I think that's a sort of critical next step for opening up markets

  • In the meantime

  • the drop in travellers is giving the tourism industry

  • …a rare chance for a reboot

  • Many destinations are rethinking the type of visitors

  • they attract

  • and considering how to make tourism more sustainable

  • In Amsterdam

  • the city is considering a ban on non-residents buying cannabis

  • to attract a better class of tourist

  • Machu Picchu in Peru is introducing new visitor limits

  • And Barcelona has run a campaign

  • to encourage people to venture away from the old city

  • The sustainability agenda is another one that has been accelerated

  • which is great

  • It's not only the governments

  • it's not only the private sector

  • it is also the traveller that needs to be more responsible

  • The traveller now needs to make sure that

  • the impact of the trip

  • is benefiting more the community

  • Back in the Canary Islands

  • Nacho is also thinking along these lines

  • by encouraging visitors to some of the less well-known islands

  • Hi Sonia, how are you, how are things going?

  • Very well, very happy

  • This is the first time he's hosted people on La Palma

  • and he hopes this interest in slower and more sustainable travel

  • rather than mass tourism and package holidays

  • will continue beyond the pandemic

  • We have to think that the Canary Islands

  • received almost 15m tourists in 2019

  • So that's a lot of people

  • And that's actually in some way unsustainable

  • If you consider the economic side of things

  • most of those tour operators are based in their home countries

  • so the benefit of those people travelling to the Canaries

  • not necessarily stays in the local community

  • Getting travel back on its feet is not just about holidays

  • It's a multi-billion dollar industry

  • and the backbone of the globalised world

  • Building back in the right way

  • could mean both a more seamless experience for travellers

  • and a more sustainable future

  • for the industry that supports them

Good afternoon everyone, this is your captain speaking

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B1 UK travel sonia haul canary long haul pandemic

How will covid-19 change travel? | The Economist

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    Izzy posted on 2021/02/21
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