What Now For the Travel Industry?
The COVID-19 pandemic has, as we all know, turned the world
upside-down. The way we interact with other people, one of the
most basic yet fundamental traits of humankind, has been massively
disrupted. Economies have floundered. How we work has had to be
completely re-thought. And modern travel, those multi billion-dollar
myriad of threads that for so long have intertwined around the
world, is fighting to establish how best to survive, let alone move
forward post-pandemic. Which raises huge questions in itself –
should an intrinsically racist travel industry even be allowed to make
a comeback after the pandemic? Or is there actually a compelling
argument for socializing travel for the benefit of all humankind?
The majority of humans are non-white people of color.
Unsurprisingly, despite their minority status, the travel industry
remains in the clutches of an elite white cabal. That simply cannot
continue. One of the few upsides of COVID, even though that
sounds somewhat bizarre, is that the whole world is going to have to
fundamentally re-assess how it operates. The travel industry is
certainly no exception.
The old adage that travel broadens the mind has never been truer
than now. Not only that, it enhances understanding and promotes
solidarity among peoples irrespective of skin color, religion, culture,
sexuality or any other arbitrary factor. Flying in the face of that
have been both Trumpism and Brexit. Both are insular, inward
looking and the antithesis of the urge to and benefit of travel.
Travel and interacting with other people beyond artificial borders
and walls are key to greater human understanding of one another and
the world. The pursuit of travel is then a noble thing. However, the
pursuit of profit and cartel status of the industry, as practiced by
the current global corporate “leaders” in travel, is absolutely the
opposite of being noble.
Anything of fundamental human worth should belong to the people
and not to profit-makers. Social security, roads, libraries, parks,
monuments, sidewalks, air-traffic control, heck even the police and
the military are publicly funded entities (sorry right-wingers, but
that’s the fact of the matter whether you like it or not). Of course,
the US should have publicly owned health-care and higher education,
but those are subjects for another day.
After the potent mix of a pandemic, Trump and Brexit, it should
then be self-evident that tourism needs to be completely overhauled
so as to run on a publicly-owned, not for profit fashion. More than
ever before, travel needs to be available for the many and not the
few, allowing for greater global experience and awareness. Tourism
should not consist of predominantly wealthy white travelers taking
three weeks out of the year to descend on non-Western countries
(or shitholes as Donald Trump likes to refer to them) and behave
like visiting neo-colonial overlords for their time there.
If we really want a genuinely inter-connected world, one built on
understanding, solidarity and respect, then we need to have a travel
industry that is built on those same principles. Everyone,
everywhere, every culture, has intrinsic value. Allowing then
everyone to have equal and fair access to the right to travel, in
peace, is the next logical step forward. A farmer in Djibouti has as
much right to see the world as wealthy Western from New York or
London. That cannot be achieved with for-profit structures that
are currently in the iron grip of an elitist oligarchy of private travel
Just take a moment to reflect on how many wars and international
disputes are built on misunderstanding or down-right ignorance.
Most of the world knows very little to nothing about, well, most of
the world. Travel not only breaks down boundaries, it jettisons pre-
conceptions, prejudices and misunderstandings. It is simply not
feasible, and certainly not ethical, to allow a minority of the world to
have unfettered access to travel, while the majority does not.
For the good of humanity, post-pandemic travel needs to become
publicly owned, starting with the US, leading to the rest of the
Western world and then on to the remainder of the planet. It would
have to be “Western-centric” at the outset as that is where the
bulk of travel capital and infra-structure is currently located. Given
time and political will, that travel capital can then be distributed
around the world on an equitable and just basis, resulting in the
complete socialization of the global travel industry. We want to
travel in peace. We need solidarity to do that and not more share-
holders as before the pandemic.