With the news that COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna would be distributed to millions of Americans beginning in mid-December of 2020, the light at the end of this very long tunnel started to shine a little brighter.
The Shot in the Arm That the Travel Industry Needs Right Now
Vaccinations are the key to returning the country to some semblance of normalcy, and, for many Americans, this means a return to travel. This is great news not only for travelers, but for the travel industry which has lost over $10 billion in revenue since the pandemic began.
It’s still going to take a long time to vaccinate the entire population, though, despite the vaccines from two major biotech companies having already received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Experts are saying it might be as late as the second half of 2021 before enough people have been vaccinated and enough controls have been put in place for global travel to be considered safe again.
In the meantime, local and regional travel is still an option for many Americans. The RV industry has seen a pandemic-induced revival with families and friends taking more road trips. Plenty of people are still flying domestically, reassured by a study from the Department of Defense that showed that the risk of transmission of airborne viruses on an airplane is extremely low.
Prove It to Me
Widespread availability of the vaccine will be the key factor in any decisions made about reviving the travel industry. Right now, many countries require proof of negative results from a rapid blood test or the more accurate PCR test before granting entry to tourists and business travelers. Industry insiders expect that travelers will instead be required to show proof that they were vaccinated against COVID-19 in the future.
While this burden of proof may be just another step that travelers are sure to kvetch about, it’s nothing new. An international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis (ICVP) has been a requirement for many years for anyone wanting to travel to countries where yellow fever or polio are still concerns.
As with seemingly everything else these days, there’s an app for that — or at least there will be soon. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is developing a digital pass that will show a passenger’s testing and vaccination status. Others under development include the CommonPass, endorsed by the World Economic Forum, and Health Pass by CLEAR, a company already known to frequent travelers for providing a quicker, more convenient way to get through airport security.
Though many Americans have voiced their concern about the vaccine’s rush to market and its potential side effects, a recent survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that over 70% of respondents said they would “definitely or probably” agree to being vaccinated against the virus. Needing proof of vaccination to travel will certainly nudge undecided Americans in the direction of the nearest administration site once the vaccine becomes more widely available.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Airports have really been stepping up to the plate to ensure passenger safety, requiring temperature checks and providing testing facilities where you can get stuck or swabbed to determine if you are allowed to travel.
And it’s not only the airline industry that is doing their part. The cruise industry is looking into ways in which they can instill confidence in consumers that it will be safe to sail the seas again soon. The CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines reports that the company is making it mandatory for their crews to be vaccinated and have asked their lawyers to weigh in on whether they can require the same of passengers.
Making Up for Lost Time
After nearly a year of being confined at home, Americans will want to make up for lost travel time. As the news of a safe and effective vaccine went viral, travelers turned to their computers to plan their next adventure. Skyscanner searches for spring and summer travel skyrocketed. Tour companies saw a renewed interest in their services. Hotel bookings rebounded.
Though many people struggled financially due to businesses being closed down and scant relief from the government, others weren’t affected, and some were even able to save money by not going anywhere this year. Travel analysts expect that this will translate into longer, more expensive trips when we’re able to travel freely again.
Travel Insurance Has You Covered
And that is where travel insurance will become even more valuable going forward. Consumers tend not to buy travel insurance for short weekend trips because they usually cost less, so they aren’t as much of a financial risk. But two weeks in Paris or a 10-day Caribbean cruise can be quite costly. Taking out a travel insurance policy will help you rest easy, knowing that you’ll be able to recoup some, or all of the money spent on your dream vacation should something go wrong that is covered under the policy.
Countries all over the world have already started to require tourists and business travelers to provide proof of travel insurance pre-trip or upon arrival. This protects their healthcare facilities from having to stretch their resources (already overwhelmed by the pandemic) to cover additional patients who aren’t paying into the system.
The pandemic has caused many industries to take a step back and look at how they can do things differently. Improved health and safety standards and greater flexibility have been instrumental in maintaining consumer confidence in the travel industry. Travel insurance providers saw a need to start adding COVID-19 as a “named peril,” meaning if insured travelers catch the virus, they won’t have the added stress of the financial loss on top of having to worry about their health. TravelInsurance.com can help you identify top-rated insurers that include this coverage as an option. When quoting and buying on TravelInsurance.com, look for the “COVID-19 FAQs” link next to each plan and click on it to read the insurer’s coverage position statement for COVID-19.
If you’re a “better-safe-than-sorry” type of traveler, the best kind of insurance you can get to cover any eventuality (COVID-related or not) is “cancel-for-any-reason” (CFAR) coverage. This supplemental coverage gives you the ultimate protection against the unknown. If you have to cancel your trip for any reason, having CFAR coverage will get you at least a partial refund of even non-refundable, pre-paid expenses that aren’t already covered under your regular travel insurance policy.
If you’re starting to sweat trying to figure out what kind of insurance you’ll need when you start traveling again, don’t worry. Take some time to visit the online learning center or COVID-19 overview page at TravelInsurance.com for helpful tips and articles that will help you understand more about what types of travel insurance are available.
Whether your post-pandemic travel plans include staying close to home or booking the first flight to Europe when the borders reopen to Americans, TravelInsurance.com has you covered.