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Travel & COVID - One Year Later

A Year in Retrospect



As we are at the one-year anniversary for COVID-19 shutdowns, many have begun to reflect on the ups and downs from the past year. The world has been irrecoverably changed, and the new normal will look very different from the reality we knew pre-2020. Join us as we explore what the past year has been like for the world, from travel workers to the planet to people around the world.


Part I – Travel Workers


One of the hardest-hit industries from the pandemic in the past year is the tourism sector, as millions of travel workers and businesses worldwide suddenly faced a reality of postponed trips and cancelled reservations. As stay-at-home measures were implemented across the world and travel was largely shut down in 2020, more than four million travel and hospitality jobs were lost in just the United States and more than 100 million tourism jobs globally were lost or jeopardized (Yeginsu, 2021). The pandemic has left a nasty scar on the tourism sector, with the U.N. World Tourism Organization estimating a loss of $1.3 trillion in export revenue (Elliott, 2021).


Such large numbers are hard to even comprehend, but the raw, difficult stories of travel workers bring to light some of the hardships faced by those within the industry. Maria Simpson, a 51-year-old housekeeper in Jamaica, has lost her income source as hotels in Jamaica continue to operate at reduced capacity (Yeginsu, 2021). She had to move herself and her family from their two-bedroom house to a small room at a friend’s place since she could no longer afford rent, and she is determined to return to her old role as a hotel housekeeper as soon as she receives the vaccine (Yeginsu, 2021).


The story of Maria is evocative of similar experiences faced by people across the world, from tour bus operators to safari guides, and many workers look to the coming year as a chance for recovery and growth. Yet, the future still remains uncertain, especially for workers in the cruise industry. With many U.S.-based cruise lines cancelling trips until at least the end of May and the Norwegian Cruise Line suspending operations through June, the return to sailing appears to drift farther and farther away (Sampson, 2021). Vaccine requirements and social distancing measures may accelerate the resumption of travel, but it remains to be seen how this will play out this year.


Elliott, Christopher. 2021. “What covid-19 did to travel — and what it will do.” Washington

Post, March 10, 2021.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/what-covid-19-did-to-travel--and-what-i

t-will-do/2021/03/10/3730719e-80de-11eb-81db-b02f0398f49a_story.html?utm_campaig

n=wp_by_the_way&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_bytheway

Sampson, Hannah. 2021. “When will cruises sail again? Here’s where the industry stands one

year later.” Washington Post, March 16, 2021.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2021/03/16/cruise-vaccine-carnival-norwegian-caribbean/.

Yeginsu, Caylan. 2021. “Anguish, Determination, Hope: Travel Workers Despair a Lost Year.”

New York Times, March 10, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/10/travel/covid-travel-workers.html?campaign_id=24&emc=edit_tl_20210313&instance_id=28023&nl=travel-dispatch&regi_id=71730924&segment_id=53370&te=1&user_id=e4604bdeaf4783a91f7338973b820119.


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