OK, so the title may be a bit melodramatic, but in some senses it is true. As nations across the globe have found ways to control the COVID-19 virus, it seems that America is behind the eight ball here and other nations, quite simply, do not want Americans bringing in the virus again. And I can’t blame them. But….
Traveling to other nations is what we do. It is part of the fabric of being an American and certainly part of the fabric of each of us in the travel industry. But until we get this virus under control, our desire to travel and our desire to provide a living for ourselves is limited. And it is becoming more and more limited as other states are putting in quarantine restrictions for travelers from other states.
In Maryland, where I am based, I am (for all intents and purposes) forbidden to travel to 27 other states. I can pass through in an airport, in a car or bus, or on a train, but if I want to stay, I typically will need to quarantine for 14 days. Not that cruise ships are sailing, but that might make it difficult to arrive a day or two before a cruise.
The first step to being able to move about the world, and in fact the country (sorry Southwest) is to look at Florida. I don’t mean to pick on Florida, but arguably they are a major gateway to tourism in the United States with four major cruise ports, a handful of major airports, two of the world’s largest attractions, and the gateway to the Caribbean, Central and South America.
In a word, Florida needs to get its act together. People want to go to Florida, people want to pass through Florida, and travel businesses want to operate out of Florida. But until the State is perceived (or proven) to be a relatively safe place, it is just not going to happen.
Obviously I am not a CDC employee or an epidemiologist with intimate knowledge of the virus, but it seems that the answer to getting it under control is to mask up.
It is not the cure, but nearly all of the experts agree that wearing a mask will go VERY far to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. Yes it is hot. Yes it is inconvenient. But for the health and safety of yourself, your loved ones, and your business…it is necessary.
We (the travel industry) are crabs in a crab pot. Slowly boiling to death without realizing it. We have been at this now for more than 16 weeks and each of us has seen our business slowly erode. Some of us will make it. Many will not. This industry has a history of being great evangelists for themselves. When online agencies came into being, we fought at explained why a real agent is better. When commissions were eliminated by our airline “partners” we told the tales of why it made sense to spend an extra $5/$10/$25/$40/$50 per ticket to have an agent do it. When 911 or any other travel roadblock grounded travelers, we were there cheering them on to travel when it was safe to do so again. We need to mobilize.
Mask up. It is that simple. Experts have said that is we would all wear masks, we could be under control in 4 to 6 weeks. For crying out loud, we’ve been at this for sixteen!
As you communicate with your clients emphasize masking. If you have some marketing dollars left, maybe have a custom mask printed and send it to your best clients. When you are talking to the local newspaper or radio station (you are still pitching them right?) make sure you stress the importance.
With every week that goes by with our businesses in a holding pattern, the chances of our businesses surviving diminishes. I hate to be a “Debbie Downer” on this but it is true.