Head at Travelpayouts, the largest affiliate marketing network focused on the travel market.
Journalists and travel bloggers are questioning how to talk about travel these days and whether to talk about it at all. Social media users are shying away from posting their locations in fear of being shamed. In the meantime, the travel industry continues to struggle and is experiencing the largest downturn in its history.
After months of stay-at-home orders, many people have slowly started reuniting with their loved ones, getting out of their hometowns and visiting tourist sites. Some would consider this irresponsible behavior that can put thousands of people at risk.
So, is it bad to travel and promote traveling these days? As I’ve realized while browsing articles on this topic, the answer is complicated and comes with numerous caveats.
My company has over 250,000 travel partners, and each of them has learned the hard way that the pandemic has devastated the travel industry. Let’s look at how saying that travel is absolutely prohibited can devastate it even more.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not calling for mindless travel. On the contrary, I’m saying it’s more complicated than saying whether it’s good to travel and talk about it or not.
When you think about the travel industry, you think about the many services that people use in the process: the airline industry with its commercial and chartered flights, airports all over the world, car and other vehicle rental agencies, water transportation such as ocean liners and ferries, railways, hotels and hostels, shared spaces and farmhouses, camping, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, tourists guides and tours, financial services and travel insurance, and more.
Many businesses in this industry are already shuttered and will never reopen. The continual depressed level of travel spending has resulted in a loss of $64.4 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue in the U.S. alone since March.
We have human lives at stake when we give travel advice, but we also have human lives at stake in travel businesses — millions of people who are still working in the industry.
Travel bloggers have been hit hard because of the pandemic. To keep their blogs afloat, many have started side projects: selling gadgets and clothing for travelers, offering coaching and online courses, developing travel games and virtual tours and providing other services.
I’ve seen that many of them pivoted their content into relevant topics — safety information surrounding Covid-19 trends, special recommendations for local trips, tips for renting a car because it’s become much more common for travel than flights, etc. Some bloggers have become crucial to their communities, offering tips on how travel can be made safe and accessible for disabled people in the new normal, for example.
Readers have always come to travel bloggers for advice as they struggle to find accurate and useful information about traveling, and the same is true during the pandemic. While it’s important to read and respect health and safety guidelines and restrictions for travel, no government officials will be able to share experiences of exactly what it’s like to travel during the pandemic. Many travel bloggers are encouraging readers to think about ways to travel responsibly, safely and sustainably during the pandemic and beyond.
Responsible Travel And The Power Of Positivity
I believe that mindful traveling will do more good than bad. In such unstable times, many people are facing anxiety and depression. It’s not healthy to be isolated inside, reading negative news and being detached from your friends and family. People need engagement now more than ever.
In my experience, travel is one activity that promotes positivity and a sense of adventure, and it still can. With new cleanliness standards for airports and planes and mask mandates for travelers, “studies suggest that flying is a relatively lower-risk activity.” Travel + Leisure identified today as “a unique moment in travel” that may never come again.
Of course, this isn’t to say you should visit higher-risk relatives or travel if you have concerns about spreading contagions. It’s a choice that everyone makes for themselves, and above all, travelers and travel companies must operate in accordance with their local health and safety guidelines. However, I believe tourism shaming doesn’t bring any value to already complicated times.