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

firms.

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.