Travel has been one of the biggest industries hit by COVID-19: Airlines are going into administration or going bankrupt, millions of workers are losing their jobs, tourist-based economies are collapsing, and hotels are now being used as emergency medical areas for those sick.

Due to the drastic effects the pandemic has made on global travel industries, travel post-virus is likely to look very different to the travel we have grown accustomed to.

For countries that have gotten on top of the COVID-19 spread (China, Singapore, South Korea), the biggest concern now is how to go about preventing future viruses from rapidly and irrevocably spreading the same way COVID-19 did. This translates to massive changes for future travel.

How will travel change?

Perhaps the world will approach the issue the same way Korea has, in that those travelling into any foreign country will have to isolate for two weeks, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19.

When lockdowns across the world are over and people begin travelling again, it is likely that countries will be testing travellers at each border. This could be as mild as a temperature check to as drastic as a throat swab. With this in mind, waiting times and line ups will be considerably longer than we are used to at airports, with mass amounts of people having to wait for test results.

Passengers undergoing thermal screening tests at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati. Source: PTI

You will need to carry more documentation

For some countries unwilling to take any risks, border testing will not be an option. Aside from passports, travellers will likely need a certificate of immunity: A medical document stating that you have either recovered from the virus or you have been vaccinated (once a vaccine for the virus is created and distributed, of course).

For countries willing to open up their borders, it is likely that visitors will not be allowed to stay for a long period of time without a temporary or permanent visa.

Recreational travel will be frowned upon

Travel for the sake of having a vacation or travelling around the world for recreational purposes will be a very unlikely reality for a long time and will probably be met with great difficultly between each border. Those that are travelling for a defined purpose, such as for business or medical travel, will be much more likely to get through borders with similar treatment as everyone might have received in the past.

Travelling on a budget is over

With budget airlines going bankrupt everywhere, cheap flights will be a thing of the past. Travelling will be significantly more expensive in the future and economy flights might not even be an option, while airlines recover from massive debt blows from months of inactivity.

Everyone will continue to be wary of everyone else

People will be more conscious of health risks. It will probably be a while before people stand close together again or forget to bring hand sanitiser and wipes with them whilst they are travelling.

Onboard staff for different airlines will likely wear masks and gloves, even after the risk for COVID-19 is over. Everyone will be very conscious of the risks of airborne viruses, not just COVID-19, that are more likely to be caught in a travelling environment.

Counter at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam protected with plastic tarpaulin. Source: Remko de Waal, Getty Images

Travel companies will likely be the last businesses to recover, even after the immediate risk of the spread of COVID-19 is over. In a recent study by the University of Queensland Australia (UQ), 50 per cent of people shared that they would rather drive to their destination over taking public transport or flying. This is indicative to the fact that we are still a long way off from the travel industry totally recovering.

When the immediate risk is over, will you travel as soon as you can? Where would you go and what would you do? Let us know in the comments below!

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