History dictates that by their nature pandemics never end well but that they do eventually end. There's no certainty, of course, about when this one will conclude. Normal life, or life as we knew it, is in the sort of extended holding patterns for which airliners above congested airports until recently were known .
But something of which we can all be sure is that not only are we going to need a holiday at the end of it all but Australia and the world will benefit enormously from us taking one (or two) in order to help revive the global economy to which we remain inextricably linked.
In hard and persuasive numerical terms, this means that before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic travel and tourism accounted for 10.4 per cent of the planet's GDP which translates to nearly 315 million jobs or nearly 10 per cent total global employment.
Believe me, therefore, that it's not going to be the footy, as much as many of us are besotted by it, that will lead us out of the viral and economic wilderness but an industry like travel and tourism which employs (or did) a million or so Australians.
Here then, from a travel perspective are five things that you can, as a resolutely passionate traveller, consider and do now and in the future.
THE END OF TRAVEL IS NOT NIGH
Although the end may seem nigh the truth is that at some point the end of the turmoil that has totally upturned our lives will be in sight and we'll be travelling again, albeit in an initially limited fashion. By that stage hopefully there will still be enough of us with the wherewithal to take a holiday but in doing so you'll be doing your country and the world a massive favour.
POSTPONE, POSTPONE, POSTPONE.
To aid the ailing travel industry and even if only to provide yourself and your loved ones with something to look forward to during these worrying times, don't cancel or seek a refund for that trip you'd booked but postpone or defer it, even if it means you don't get to take the trip until 2021. The task and process of obtaining a refund at this stage may well simply add to your own stress levels and that of travel businesses, small and large, on the brink.
CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME
Remember how only a few months ago our leaders were imploring us to visit bushfire-affected communities, aware of the financial boost afforded by the so-called visitor economy? The first segment of the travel industry to return will undoubtedly be the domestic market and by that stage a battered Australian economy will likely be desperate for the real stimulus that a resumption of travel will deliver. It may mean that your first trip will be a staycation or break. Get ready for it now.
KEEP DREAMING AND START PLANNING
Hope springs eternal and rarely in our collective lifetimes has hope been an even more coveted commodity than a six-pack of Sorbent. Dreaming about travel is the best thing you can do next to travelling itself. If you don't have a holiday already booked for later this year or next year, start planning it now. By the time you get to take it you and the economy will richly deserve and value it.
THINK OF YOUR FAR-FLUNG FRIENDS
It may seem a little self-centered to be dreaming about a holiday at the moment but think about all of the amazing, unforgettable people you've met over your lifetime of travels. The insightful tour guide in Istanbul, the indefatigably cheerful cruise ship waiter, the canny hotel concierge who secured those precious show tickets for you. Consider how they may be feeling and faring now. May we all meet again.
We are by necessity distancing ourselves from each other, something that's entirely at odds with human nature, as is the requirement to confine ourselves to quarters when we're completely well, if not rather worried. Eventually the world will have no choice to find a way for us to come together again with tourism being one of the best and most worthy expressions of it.
Anthony Dennis is the editor of Traveller published in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.