Opening the Travel Industry in the Developing World
As we move into a new “phase” of COVID with vaccines rolling-out in many developed countries, we wanted to dive into what that means for travel. More specifically, travel in developing countries.
Perhaps using broad brushstrokes here, but in many ways the developing world has fared much better than the West in their response to COVID. Countries with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths come from the Americas and Europe, while many of the lowest death rates can be found in Africa and Asia. But why is that?
First, there may be some more obvious reasons. Things such as unreliable reporting and statistics, Africa’s younger demographic and warmer climates all certainly contribute, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
In a lot of ways, diseases such as Ebola, SARS and MERS are still in the recent institutional memories of these countries, and that has instilled a level of preparedness far beyond that of the West. Using scarce resources and creativity, many developing countries know how to stop outbreaks before they become wide-spread. In addition, swift and strong decisions were made early by many leaders knowing full well that their health infrastructure simply cannot handle a population with wide-spread infection.
Economically though, many of these countries rely heavily on tourism dollars. Even more than developed countries, they’ve been faced with the incredibly difficult balance between their economy and the protection of their population. In our opinion, it would be a mis-step to erase the work they’ve done so well to date, by opening up their borders too soon and/or without a strong plan to effectively deal with increased tourism.
Vaccinations will obviously help, but the unfortunate reality is the developing world does not have the money, infrastructure or geography to roll-out a mass vaccination effort as effectively as the West. Fortunately, there are new organizations such as COVAX that exist, where higher income economies work with manufacturers to ensure vaccines reach those in the greatest need, wherever they live.
Our prediction is travel in developing countries will really start to ramp up by the Summer. A strong vaccine roll-out in the West, along with naturally lower-case rates in the warmer weather will provide enough reassurance for governments to relax their border restrictions in a meaningful way. Soon after we’ll see major airlines increasing the number of flights to these regions, hopefully at a discounted rate. One prediction is proof of either a COVID vaccine or a negative test within 36 hours will be required to enter many of these countries without a mandatory quarantine.
It doesn’t matter how “developed” the country you live in, so many of us want travel to return. Either to go on a desperately needed trip, or to re-open a tourism focused business essential to a family’s well-being. We also all want tourism to return safely, both for ourselves, and those we come into contact with.
What do you think travel in the next 12-15 months looks like?