Coronavirus – Impacting Travel Plans

The hottest ticket in town right now has to be the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak. It has spread from it’s source in China to around 100 different countries across the world. People are beginning to change their habits and routines in reaction to this health threat.

The biggest industry to be affected has to be Travel in all it’s forms. The virus is being blamed for the demise of regional airline FlyBe in the UK. I suppose it is a knock effect that because of dwindling passenger numbers and revenue streams dry up and the airline was already in trouble that it flew it’s final flight last week.

There are some strange decisions being taken here in the UK by large organisations. Look at the F.A (Football Association) who in their wisdom banned teams from shaking hands at the opening activities of games from this past weekend. So what happens at the end of the game? They all shake hands of course! When a team scores the first thing that happens is that the team hug each other with much rubbing of heads and high fives! So what is the point of banning handshakes in the first place?

The most notable event that has been cancelled in response to the alarm over Coronavirus has to be ‘South by Southwest’ that was to have been from 13 – 22 March 2020 in Austin, TX. The event organisers quite rightly are devastated that the city of Austin has decided to cancel for the first time in it’s 34 year history. Apparently there are plans to have a truncated version online. The impact of cancelling must cast a net far and wide. This Music and Film Festival attracts visitors worldwide and they will have all booked flights, cars, hotels and event tickets well in advance.

Google cancelled the I/O conference due to be held in Mountain View, CA. Employees are being encouraged where possible to work from home. Schools are making contingency plans to provide lectures or lessons remotely.

The Italian Government has put the northern regions of the country in lock down and all but essential travel to the region has been banned but flights are still scheduled to Milan from the UK. So the picture remains confusing because Italy has taken drastic action to contain the spread but the UK isn’t taking the same precautions but if the virus spreads more rapidly it will have to do something.

The picture in America is confusing right now because the President seems to be contradicting the experts and not seeming to accept that the virus is spreading.  The official advise is that the elderly should avoid long travel plans, cruises and being in situations with crowds but the President is insisting that they have ‘a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan’.

How can any Government have anything in place for something that has no cure nor protection for? There seems to be a lot of very hot air being spouted for something that they have no control of.

Some airlines are being sensible and offering changes to flights within a short period but not refunds and you still have to pay the difference between the original cost and the new cost. Hotels are not obliged to cancel free of charge in pre-payment has been made but are refunding ‘as a gesture of goodwill’. Personally the Travel Industry will have to tread very carefully to balance customers expectations with the actualities of the situation.

Would you want to book a cruise right now? It must be like being in an incubation for infectious diseases right now. The Diamond Princess stranded in Yokohama recently had no real impact in containing the virus even though passengers were confined to their cabins with filtered air it still managed to infect over 700 of them. Governments were sending rescue flights to repatriate their citizens and have them self isolate for 14 days on their return to their home countries. The Grand Princess has docked in Oakland, CA and the US citizens are being disembarked. There is talk of the UK citizens having a rescue flight organised for them but conditions onboard are deterioting rapidly with food running out of supply as well as medications being available. Princess cruises are being blamed for staff being deployed from an infected ship to another ship. What about all the other people that have unknowingly been in contact with their staff as they moved from ship to the other.

If you are in good health why now research for bargain flights to America? There is going to be a glut of empty seats that suppliers are going to want to fill.

In the meanwhile remember to WASH YOUR HANDS WITH SOAP AND HOT WATER for TWENTY SECONDS and catch coughs and sneezes into a tissue or the crook of your arm. Don’t touch your face and don’t buy bacterial hand sanitizer from an online auction because your supermarket has sold out. Barak Obama tweeted last week to not buy face masks so that there are supplies for the medical experts that need them. Are EBAY and AMAZON going to monitor sellers for essential supplies and prevent stock piling? I doubt it.

Stay safe!