s the EU says tourism could resume, and airlines plan to step up schedules, we’re getting a glimpse that feels both dreamy and dystopian.
Portugal’s beaches will reopen in June. Bliss!
But wait – that’s with capacity limits and police patrols. Bathers “will have to reserve a space for themselves, always maintaining a minimum safety distance”, Visit Portugal says.
Tour operator TUI has begun to open resorts, with a 10-point plan for new cleaning and social-distancing measures.
Good news? Sure, but with jolting changes, too.
Self-service buffets will be “reduced to a minimum”, it says. Tables will be spaced and, wherever possible, “food and beverages will be served to guests by staff wearing protective masks”.
What about fun and games? Small group and distance-friendly activities like golf or tennis are okay, TUI says, but close-contact sports like football are out. You can also expect online check-in and regular distancing reminders and hand-sanitisation points.
Keeping the ‘hospital’ out of hospitality will be tricky when travellers are hyper aware of hygiene, but also wanting a holiday to get away from it all.
In late June, TUI reportedly plans a “pilot project” with a small number of holidaymakers in Mallorca. If successful, more could follow in July, and destinations with low virus caseloads, such as Greece, Malta, the Canary Islands and Portugal, want to reboot tourism as soon as possible.
“We will reinvent the holiday in 2020,” says TUI’s CEO Fritz Joussen (though Covid-19 could cost up it to 8,000 jobs), and I do think package holidays – with consumer protection and travel organised from flights to transfers and self-contained resorts – can carry appeal.
In Ireland, news that the State will guarantee their credit notes has bought time for travel agents. Innovations include Tour America’s new brand ZoomHolidays.ie, which allows holidaymakers to plan online with its sales team – viewing videos, quotations and airline choices from their own screens.
“Customers like to interact face to face, and this is our opportunity to show them that they are truly listened to,” says its MD, Mary McKenna.
Clearly, future holidays depend on travel restrictions and quarantines, as well as safety measures like temperature checks or digital health passports. Some of us may feel reassured, eager to jet off – especially if there are sales. Others may prefer to watch and wait before packing that swimsuit.
As always, put your peace of mind first.
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