CHARLOTTE, NC — The world is getting antsy. Not just Americans. The entire planet. Except, perhaps, for the tourism industry, nobody understands the magnitude of the next major coronavirus decision better than President Donald Trump. Trump knows only too well that if he ends the Great Lockdown too early it may cause a new wave of pandemic panic. If he makes the call too late, it could be further global economic disaster. And will it ever be safe to travel again. Rest assured: no matter what Trump does on this issue, it will be wrong in the eyes of his critics.
It’s all easy to be a Monday morning quarterback in this Great Lockdown, especially when you have nothing to lose. The reverse of that, of course, is that ultimately, whatever deadline the president chooses will be the right one in his own mind.
Death and more death
Naturally we will read endless reports of COVID-19 deaths following the quarantine. The critics will immediately come out of the woodwork and scream, “You see, it was too early! Trump didn’t listen. He doesn’t care about the country. He’s only protecting his own wallet.” It’s as predictable as it is false. But that never stops the MSM.
At theis moment, the situation conjures images that look like the starting line at an Oklahoma Land Grab.
Once he blows the whistle, waves the green flag or says “Go,” Trump knows only too well that government mandated sequestration is over for good. So he’d better be right, or as close to it as possible.
Is there an endgame to the Great Lockdown?
So when will the Great Lockdown really end? Really? Alternative question: “What day can we get back to normal?”
Unfortunately, even when Trump tried to generalize his response by saying “Easter would be nice,” CNN immediately misquoted him. They falsely declared that the president had specifically declared Easter as the liberation day to mark on your calendars.
But in the real world, nobody knows for sure what the actual time and date will be. And nobody with any legitimate credentials wants to the first to speculate on it no matter how accurate their data or resources may be.
Tourism finds itself in a waterfall decline
“In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, few industries have fallen as far and as fast as tourism,” writes Elizabeth Becker for National Geographic‘s sister publication, Travel. The reason for that is not complicated when you really think about it, which nobody ever does. Not even the key players in the hospitality industry.
What is tourism?
Have you ever stopped to consider how huge the tourism industry really is? Or how it might be faring during our indefinite Great Lockdown period? Probably not. But it is mind boggling to consider.
Airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, restaurants and car rental agencies are all obvious players in this industry. But what about travel agents, tour operators, guides, train systems, motorcoach services, taxis, travel writers, tourist boards, convention and visitors bureaus, incentive houses, destination management companies and all the sidebar businesses that provide support services?
Problematically, tourism remains so diverse with such a broad set of disciplines that no one really knows just how vast the economic impact of a global pandemic or major terrorist attack can be. Any Great Lockdown like the one we’re currently experiencing will produce a wave of brave but dubious solutions.
For the immediate future (which could easily have changed by the time this is published), the non-definitive answer here that no one wants to hear about the return of normal travel during the Great Lockdown. That’s because it’s still too soon to know. And too dangerous, yet, to give this approach the green light.
Underutilized travel routes: Eliminate them or help them grow?
Even when the Great Lockdown comes to an end and the coronavirus stop or caution light changes to green, what might happen next? Outfits like airlines, for example, need to reinstate many routes that they eliminated during the crisis. Which means that despite travelers having the desire to shake off the effects of COVID Cabin Fever, they may still find themselves grounded until carriers can resume normal operations.
Already we see reports out of China that large numbers of Chinese tourists once again are queuing up to swamp destinations such as Mount Huangshan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yet it’s less than four months (or maybe more) since the initial outbreak of coronavirus occurred in Wuhan.
Had China chosen honesty and openness from the get-go on their coronavirus problem, the world might have applauded their candor as good news. But given the Chinese propensity for lying and covering up, the world finds itself haunted by concerns about a new wave of the outbreak.
During and after the Great Lockdown: We don’t know what we don’t know
All of which means we still have no specific answer as to when the world can return to business as usual. For now, the absolute best way to avoid a boomerang wave of coronavirus is to stay safe and stay home until we gain confidence that the threat no longer exists. At least in a major way.
After that all-clear sign, relax. Keep your guard up, be vigilant and stop asking that questions, already. We’ll all know the answers soon enough.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.