Travel Predictions - BY LEE TULLOCH - Author, Travel Editor, Screenwriter
As a travel writer, I usually travel internationally at least five or six times a year and much of my life is spent in airports and hotels and on long-haul flights. Two months of lockdown due to COVID-19 and more months of closed borders has certainly meant a dramatic change to my future plans. I’ve got itchy feet for sure. But I’ve also found the time in lockdown a good opportunity to reflect on how the travel landscape will be different in the short and long term and how we can travel in a more enlightened way. Here are four predictions: THE ROAD TRIP People are going to rediscover the joy of a road trip. The first kind of travel we’ll be permitted will be within our states of residence, followed by journeys interstate. While planes will be flying, safety and health priorities will mean people will avoid anywhere they’re clustered with other people, such as airports and inside planes, where even sitting across the aisle from a fellow traveller on a short flight will feel too risky for many. The car is a safe cocoon. Besides, the road trip is the kind of nostalgia we’re looking for, harking back to a simpler time when flying wasn’t as accessible, and families piled into the car with only the vaguest plan for their summer holiday. It was fun, wasn’t it? Expect camping, caravanning and short stays in motels/Airbnbs to have a huge surge in takers. It might be wise to book now. TRAVEL BUBBLES You’ll be hearing a lot about travel bubbles. Countries with low incidences of COVID-19 will open their borders to similarly virus-free nations, and boost each other’s tourist economy. There’s a very real possibility that Australia and New Zealand will soon form their own bubble, so that travellers between the two countries won’t have to go into quarantine upon arrival. Expect this to be extended to our South Pacific neighbours, such as Fiji and the Cook Islands, and later to Asian nations that have suppressed the virus, such as Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. Within Europe, certain countries are forming their own ‘corridors’ and, with a bit of luck, Australians will be seen as ‘safe’ travellers and we’ll be welcomed in many more international destinations. VALUE It’s impossible to say what will happen to the price of flying with so many airlines in trouble but it’s likely long-haul trips will be less affordable for some time. That means value will become the big issue when we’re looking for a holiday overseas. We’ll need to travel less, but better. More people will be looking to what the ‘luxury’ end of the market offers - smaller cruise ships, bespoke tours, and private villas. That might mean an overseas trip is affordable only every three years, instead of annually, but the quality of the experience will probably be higher. And for a period time (brief unfortunately) over-tourism will be less of an issue in the world’s hot spots. A good travel adviser and expert advice from reputable travel publications will be important to navigate this new world. AUSTRALIA Australia will benefit tremendously, as long as there’s airline capacity to our remote destinations. Last summer’s bushfires devastated the nation’s tourist industry, not just in the worst affected states, and the arrival of COVID-19 has been a double whammy. But Australia offers what many travellers, local and international, will be looking for – wide open spaces, an abundance of nature for hiking, swimming and car touring, and pristine air. Australians need to rethink what ‘exotic’ means and look for it in our own backyard, taking that trip to the Top End, finally, or exploring Tasmania’s wild west. And we need to think seriously about where we’re spending our tourist dollars and how we can help deserving communities.