BY CLAIRE OKRAFO-SMART
Like so many of us, I went on my daily walk this afternoon, making the most of this glorious weather. And as is the new norm, I marvelled at the lack of traffic, the peace is wonderful. But I was also struck by the vivid colours and heady perfumes of the blossom trees and lilac trees and the abundance of wildflowers. It made me think: the coronavirus is having devastating effects on the world, including all parts of the travel and events industries, but it’s not all doom and gloom, there are so many positive travel news stories out there.
Carbon emissions have reduced by a staggering amount.
The whole world has more or less ground to a halt, flights have been cancelled, cars are parked up, public transport is pared back. Add to this the unprecedented number of people working from home – meaning closed offices, the disappearance of rush hour and factories halting certain operations – and it’s no surprise that carbon emissions are significantly lower than they were this time last year.
In China, carbon emissions are said to have fallen by a quarter – that’s around 200m tonnes, which, to put it into perspective, is half the amount of carbon emissions Britain usually emits in an entire year.
The usually murky canals of Venice are now turquoise-hued and clear and the swans are swimming again in Burano.
The mighty Himalayan mountain range is back. Not that it actually went anywhere, but pollution has kept it hidden from view for some 30 years. You can now see her snowy caps from over 130 miles away.
Wildlife has reclaimed the Austrian Alps now that the skiers amongst us are no longer teaming down her hillsides. And there are many more destinations all over the world, from Amsterdam to the Great Wall of China, that will benefit from the world coming to a temporary standstill. Over-trampled forests will grow back, coral reefs will recover, and sand dunes will have a break from walkers causing erosion.
There’ll be an optimal time for travellers once the world gets moving again when iconic sites around the world, such as the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, will remain quieter than usual for a short period and this will be the time for us to pack our bags and explore.
And do you know what? People will be happy to see us.
Once the world starts travelling again, locals who rely on tourism will need our support more than ever. And our travel experiences are likely to be more personal and more authentic than post virus. It’s what I’d call a win-win for everyone!
Until that moment, thank goodness for virtual technology!
With smartphones in our hands, we are all able to keep in touch through video chat with friends and family. And from Machu Picchu and the Pyramids of Giza to the British Museum and the Palace of Versailles – museums, galleries and travel icons all over the world are popping up to reveal they’ve launched internet-based tours. You can ‘walk’ through these places whilst sitting on your sofa with a cup of tea.
So let’s start planning our future travel now.
Just because you can’t physically get on a plane right now doesn’t mean you can’t plan your next trip. Use this time to update your bucket list or research your next adventure.
Choose your next destination, start mapping out your itinerary and make your plans ahead of time. Prepare now, and you can make sure you’re first out of the door when the world dusts off its suitcase and is free to start exploring again.