How COVID-19 is Changing Travel in 2020

For travellers that absolutely must travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, expect a vastly different protocol and changes in 2020, and beyond.

Life + Leisure Travel and Getaways Triston Brewer

This article was published on May 24th, 2020

The global impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry is poised to dramatically transform the way we plan our destinations in the future. With more than half of the world’s population in some form of lockdown or quarantine, the tourism industry has come to a near standstill as international travel has been severely limited to reduce the spread of the infectious disease. 

Travel experts predict that there will be a gradual, yet slow, return to traveling over the next few months, but with the majority of people opting for local destinations or staycations for the remainder of the year. For travellers that absolutely must travel, they can expect a vastly different protocol put into place to ensure optimal protection, from airline bookings to car rentals, dining and hotel reservations. We have already given insight on how to travel  during this pandemic, and now HomoCulture breaks down what changes to prepare for in 2020 and beyond. 

Photo credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Hotels Instituting New Safety Measures

For the foreseeable future, the majority of hotels will operate at less than full capacity so that all rooms can be thoroughly sanitized and left vacant up to 48 hours between guest reservations. Upon arrival, some lodging facilities are incorporating digitized check-ins to reduce exposure to paper.  Throughout many hotels, guests will now have access to hand sanitizer in the elevators, dining areas, stairwells, and training centers. 

Inside the rooms, coffee makers and tea kettles will be removed. Deep cleaning of bedroom and bathrooms will also be standard operating procedure after each guest checks out. Typically, hotels provide basic amenities for bathrooms that include shampoo, conditioner and soap, but with under the new measures brought on by COVID-19, travelers can expect to have extra disinfection applied to the areas of rooms most frequently touched, including light switches, television remotes, thermostats, and door handles. 

Dining Areas Offering New Options

For those hotels that have decided to maintain a buffet breakfast, strict rules are being introduced to ensure that guests feel safe and protected. Among the options, they include revamped menu options, reduction of wait staff and servers, utilizing plastic barriers, a pulley system, and even contactless table setting. Back-of-house areas will also implement stricter health and safety measures that will extend to dining areas and executive meeting rooms where larger groups could potentially gather. With guests more concerned about cleanliness and transparency, hygiene and sanitation protocols are viewed as essential by the hotel industry amidst the COVID-19 epidemic. Other things like happy hour wine, beer, and cocktails will stop in an effort to reduce gatherings and limit guest interactions.

Airlines Tightening Security and Safety Precautions

Just as airports internationally tightened security after the terrorist attacks in the United States on 9/11, the airlines are mandating increased safety measures that travelers could be subject to. Depending on the country you are flying from and the destination, these new precautions include contactless check-in, mandatory face mask covering, elimination of the use of middle seats, temperature checks, and possibly even health certificates to fly. According to analysts, these new rules are likely to be time-consuming and complicate flying schedules worldwide. 

What Lies Ahead for the Remainder of 2020

The best recommendations for the rest of 2020 are to not travel unless it is absolutely essential. With so many already cancelled in 2020, events like music concerts, Pride festivals, circuit parties, and art fairs can be delayed until 2021 or until a vaccine has been made and distributed to the general public. According to most polls, the majority of travelers will be hesitant to travel anyway as airports are considered epicenters for the spread of COVID-19.

Start making your 2021 bucket list for travel destinations or opt for staycations that are near where you live to support your local economy. Being a responsible traveler in 2020 involves searching for other options to travel. A couple of options include train travel or road trips with people that you know that give you more control of your environment as well as less contact with strangers. No matter which measures you ultimately decide on, one thing is certain: COVID-19 has altered the future of travel, forever. 

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