Global travel is a cause of the virus spread

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Earlier this week Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s lead advisor on the coronavirus panidemic, said that global travel was one of the main causes identified as leading to the spread of COVID -19.

Dr Fauci. Image – NIAID

It isn’t the only cause but, by being a significant one, means that the less travel we do, the less likely it is to spread.

And there is the problem.

We like to travel. Not just for pleasure although the last fifty years has seen an explosion in international travel but for business. Prior to the virus we jumped on a plane for a meeting almost anywhere in Europe and could fly back the same day and we did. I have attended day meetings in the Algarve, Venice, Berlin, Dublin, Edinburgh and Glasgow, Copenhagen and Madrid and thought nothing of it.

Maybe now we shall have to think.

And not just business people but tourists as well.

Prior to the virus, places like Barcelona and Venice, Rome and Paris, Edinburgh and Kyoto were talking about tourism pollution or over-tourism. Venice looks so different these days from any of the dozen occasions that I have visited it over the last thirty years.

Now there is little talk of how to deter tourists from arriving. It is, instead, how to attract tourists to return but in a more sustainable way in the area they are visiting.

Some like the Mayor of Venice would like fewer tourists but tourists are still wanted. But can you attract tourists and not have a second wave of the virus. This is taxing the best brains and will continue to do so until a successful vaccine can be found.

Greece has a spike on the island of Mykonos at the weekend due to an unauthorised three day party attended by thousands.  Vietnam had an increase in cases after a sole flight from London to Hanoi. Hong Kong saw an increase after students returned to their homes and tourists flew in.

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday, “Although the situation in Europe is improving, globally it is worsening,”

On that basis certain countries may not want to see tourists at all this year.

That is until they sit down and think about which is more important, the health of their inhabitants or the health of their economies?

It isn’t an easy question to answer because the obvious answer, that they want both, is probably unattainable.

To me, it looks like South and North America the Indian subcontinent and possibly Russia and Iran are still on an upward curve in both case and death numbers. Some governments might want visitors but is it safe for the visitors?

Other places like Seychelles, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, Fiji and Papua New Guinea have not seen any cases for many days and may now be virus free. Although Australia has been on a downward trajectory certain states like Queensland refuse to re-open their borders to other Australians let alone overseas travellers.

Sydneysiders still recall how the passengers on board the Ruby Princess were responsible for the single most serious outbreak of the virus and 22 deaths out of the total number of 102 deaths ie 21.5% of all deaths in Australia so far are due to the Ruby Princess.

Dr Fauci is not alone in pointing to tourism’s role in the pandemic. The question still remains. How does tourism develop after the virus yet not plunge the world into a second wave?

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