I know we are all wondering about what will happen to travelling after the Coronavirus pandemic. Is it going to be safe? How will we be able to travel freely? Will it be more expensive or cheaper? These are some of the questions lingering in my mind.
At least 91% (7.1 Billion people) of the world’s population, live in countries with restrictions on people arriving from other countries. People who are neither citizens nor residents, such as tourists, business travellers and new immigrants are denied access. 43 of Africa’s 54 countries have closed their borders, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than half of Africa’s 54 countries have imposed lock downs, curfews, travel bans or other restrictions to try to contain the spread of coronavirus. 51 of the African countries have reported cases of the disease. As of May 21, 2020 there were 1,109 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kenya, with 375 recovered patients and 45 related deaths.
The hotel, travel and tourism industry has been the most affected industry during this Coronavirus Pandemic.Travel and tourism is the backbone of many economies across Africa and its collapse will lead to millions of livelihoods being impacted and enormous financial pressure for years to come. Most travel bloggers are now unable to travel and forced to create content from the comfort of their homes or find alternative ways of travelling.
I attended a webinar series on preparing for tourism recovery after Coronavirus and the points that were shared were really insightful.
As Kenyans, how prepared are we for what will happen after coronavirus?
Currently the country is under partial lock down with travel bans into and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi by air, road or rail. Only essential service providers are exempted from this travel ban. There is currently a mandatory, country-wide curfew imposed between 7.00pm and 5.00am.We are not certain on when this travel ban will be lifted but we are optimistic that soon, we will be able to travel again.
One of the points that came out strongly from the webinar is that Corona may be with us for a longer time than we anticipated. We might have to “Live with it” because we can not put our lives on hold forever.
How will be able to travel?
There is going to be an increase in domestic tourism and travel for sure. Most countries are not going to be open to accepting tourists and non-citizens for quite some time. The only option travellers will have is to do local/domestic travel. This is a good thing because it will increase revenue for the home countries and also people will be able to explore the hidden gems in their home countries.
The most common mode of transport will be self-drive. This will be less risky compared to using public transport of being in a group tour with strangers. Hon. Sabina Kwekwe, PS Ministry of Tourism, stated that are plans to open areas for domestic tourism and improve the infrastructure to make the areas accessible. The plans are underway so as to make domestic tourism more attractive by reducing park entry fees for kenyans and even the non citizens who are in the country. The Nairobi National Park is currently open and you can check out the pricing details here.
We are also likely to see more virtual tours being marketed. Content creators are encouraged to put up more content so that those who are unable to travel can access the information from the comfort of their homes. Virtual tours are not meant to replace real travelling but they are encouraged so as to keep the people thirsty for travel. This is also a way of creating income for the content creators.
Will travel be cheaper or more expensive?
Travel will not be cheap. That is for sure. The industry has lost quiet a lot of money during this pandemic and they must work out a way to try and recover this lost revenue. The CEO,Kenya Airways, Mr.Allan Kivaluka stated that travel is not going to be cheap especially for those who will be flying. The airline is not yet ready to open the airspace for international travel so they will start with domestic flights.
Due to the social distance rules, it means that the airplanes are going to carry fewer people but at a higher price so as to cover the cost. There will be rules and restrictions to be followed at the airports before travellers are allowed to board the planes. The CEO further stated that they were planning to open domestic flight in May but due to unavoidable circumstance, they have had to push it forward to around June or until further notice.
What to expect at the airports after Coronavirus
A lot of changes will be seen at the airports post this Corona Pandemic. The post covid-19 protocols by Kenya Airways touch on seven key areas which are check-ins, terminals, immigration and security, boarding zones, in-flights, transfers and arrivals.
- Flights will be more expensive. Note: Expensive is relative.
- Increase in domestic flights.
- There will be an increase in smaller planes which consume less fuel and can be filled with less people.
- Decrease in long haul flights. Less layovers so as to avoid people interacting with others who have not been tested and proven to be “travelfit”. The lesser the layovers the lesser the interactions and thus less probability for infections.
- Wearing masks will be mandatory even during the flights. Read: What type of mask should I wear.
- Meals boxes, packages, cutlery and any food in the flights will be single wrapped, used once and disposed.
- Increased sanitation stations and inspection of baggage areas. Staff sanitation after serving each guest.
- Airline staff will wear personal protective equipment rather than their normal uniforms
- Less physical interactions and touch points.
- Long check in hours due to the increased screenings that will be taking place.
- Testing. Travellers will be required to get tested prior to travelling or get tested when they get to the airports. There might be a requirement to show proof that you are Covid-negative .
- There is likelihood that travellers might be asked to self quarantine for some period of time on arrive/landing.
- There will be quite a number of rules and regulations in regards to travelling to different countries. The US Embassy Nairobi strongly recommends that US Citizens and nationals enroll in STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so as to receive important information from the Embassy about health conditions, safety alerts, and travel updates.
I would like to say that we will be able to travel despite the many changes that will come with it. We have a long way to recovery but that does not mean we lose hope. Let us make this year, a year of road trips and explore our country. Lets promote domestic tourism.