If seen closely, the year 2020 actually told us the exact meaning of “expect the unexpected”. From tourism to any other sector, the COVID-19 virus affected everything.
On one side where there was nothing rather than darkness and fear, on the other hand, the introduction of vaccines has aroused a ray of happiness in people’s hearts. Every person hopes that this vaccine will cure every problem that has arisen in the past 1 year. And this could be true as well.
But with the arrival of the vaccine, numerous doubts have started arising in people’s minds.
If we talk about tourism, the most important question at this time is, “Will the vaccine remove travel restrictions 2021?”.
Many travellers believe that the vaccine will turn out to be a magical cure for the travel sector.
But if we consider the opinion of some experts, it has been said that the vaccine won’t help in removing the travel restrictions even in 2021. And if this happens, no one can stop the further destruction of the already shattered travel economy.
However, it is still a mystery whether the vaccine will prove out to be a blessing or a curse.
Let us try to find out the same by looking at the bigger picture.
Looking At The Bigger Picture
Dr Felicity Nicholson, a travel specialist says that “I think it’s just a matter of time before things come back to some degree of normality, but it’ll take quite a long time,” At this moment, tourism definitely won’t be the first thing going to be hit by the vaccination process.
Multiple countries have made it mandatory to take vaccines before entering. And due to this reason, such countries could face numerous obstacles in 2021.
Let us have a look at some of such countries and their hurdles:
● United States
It is expected that the US will provide the vaccine to its citizens by December mid. And most probably the first shot of the vaccine will be given to the front line workers. However, the US government itself agrees that the vaccine will take a long time to spread throughout the country.
If we talk about statistics, by May 2021, only 70% of the Americans will be treated with the vaccine.
Now, if we pay attention to the actual problem, a recent poll by Gallup says that only 58% of the population of the United States is willing to go for the vaccination.
And here the real problem stands, such countries that made it mandatory for the tourists to be vaccinated before they enter, will they allow the remaining 42% of the Americans to enter or will they just turn them away?
Being such a developed, wealthy and powerful nation, Canada is only expecting 50% of its population to be vaccinated by the September month of 2021.
“Canadians can expect that if all goes well, to have more than half of us vaccinated by next September”, these were the exact words of Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada.
When even 90% of the population of a country can’t be vaccinated by 2021, how can we expect the vaccine to remove the travel restriction in 2021?
Let us have a look at some of the other obstacles as well.
Diversity of the Vaccines
Countries making it compulsory to take vaccination before entering is no doubt a good move but it won’t be that easy.
Different pharmaceuticals are making different types of vaccines at different places, every individual vaccine would have diverse effectiveness rates and safety standards.
After all this, the biggest question is which vaccine will be the best and what will be the deciding criteria?
As a solution to this, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) has proposed a ‘Covid-19 Travel Pass’ but this pass does not seem to be adopted by the entire world after looking at the way different countries have tackled this pandemic.
Effects of the Vaccine
On 9th November, Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine showed an effectiveness rate of 90%.
On 16th November, Moderna’s tested vaccine showed an effectiveness rate of 94.5%.
No doubt such vaccines are showing great results but as it is said, every coin has two faces and so, we can’t expect everything to be perfect. Some scientists are claiming that the vaccines could also result in the mutations of the covid-19 virus.
Following the same, the UK banned tourists arriving from Denmark on 7th November after they got a hint of mutation.
Are people willing to visit such countries that require a vaccinated entry?
Recently, a travel company conducted a poll of around 250 international travellers regarding the same. Out of these 250 people, around 57% of people were willing to travel to such a country that requires a vaccinated entry.
30% of the other people were willing to choose some other destination that does not require any vaccine for entry.
The remaining 13% of people did not have an answer.
We cannot overlook that around half of the population does even want to be vaccinated. However, this number could definitely change in the future once people get to witness the vaccine’s miracles.
What kind of solutions should the government look after?
At this crucial moment, the decision of the government will directly impact their travel industry for a long time.
Tourism is one of the most affected sectors of this pandemic caused due to COVID-19. It will take too much time for the industry to get back to its earlier form even after the arrival of the vaccine. And implementing new laws and restrictions won’t do any good.
If you travel somewhere, you will not want yourself to be vaccinated again and again at different places, quarantined for a long period or driven back rather than being welcomed. In such cases, the fear of travelling to a country and not letting in would be much worse than that of being caught by the virus.
As a solution to this, the government should introduce options such as if a person has already taken the vaccination, he should be allowed to enter without any restrictions (tests/quarantine).
Other options could be basic tests upon arrival, and fewer days of quarantine. This could be the only chance for the governments to make appropriate decisions and take the things back to normal.