Current aspirations aiming to jumpstart the travel industry remain stalled by governmental disharmony.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for a delay in more than 33,000 furloughs in the airline industry, according to CNBC, as partisan disagreements between her and the Trump administration have left the sector aidless.
Having blundered through a passenger-scarce summer, the next months hold few signs of an optimistic reversal for such businesses. With borders remaining closed, the U.S. passport has digressed into irrelevancy: For instance, Australia predicts it won’t open until late into 2021, according to Voice of America.
It’s hard to overstate the economic consequences of this reality; every corner of the world should expect to be affected. This can be felt even regionally. Cited by Virginia Beach’s Department of Economic Development, tourists contributed $2.45 billion to the city in 2017, being largely foreign. The sudden lack of their spending must be an unpredicted strain.
Therefore, despite an obscure sense of when the world will be able to pick itself up again, what’s clear is that there’s not only a want but a need for travel to eventually resume. Yet, accepting that prior normality is dead and gone, how that’ll look is up to speculation.
One agreed-upon observation is that America is seeing a boost in domestic travel, namely in the form of road-tripping. This was already observable by May, according to CNBC, as 22% of travelers had changed their trip plans from flying to driving.
Moreover, with many people wishing to avoid city crowds and claustrophobic indoor spaces, the nation’s natural beauty is catching the attention of thousands. While cities like Las Vegas lost tons in revenue over the summer, this week, Maryland state parks “smash attendance records,” as described by a state news site, Delmarva Now.
Arguably, such statistics could serve as an incentive to develop internal infrastructures, such as public transport. With the presence of money-spending foreigners largely gone, their loss should be made up by investing in low-income communities that traditionally don’t or can’t travel.
For instance, a major tourist hub like New York City relies on a regular influx of tourists — a 2016 NYS report denoted tourism as a “substantial component” of the state’s economy, with 28% of its visitors coming from overseas. If more motorcoach routes were developed, providing cheap access to the city, a new — and much needed — clientele could potentially form.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has ironically provoked the opposite effect. While airline aid is argued over in the capital, the bus and motorcoach industry struggle to even be considered for financial relief by legislators. Over 300,000 in the sector have been furloughed, according to School Transportation News.
In other words, the pandemic seems to be crippling cheaper forms of transport, as policymakers prioritize bigger businesses. Quoted in the same article, Peter Pantuso, president of the American Bus Association, vented why this is upsetting: “We play a critical role in evacuating citizens … we move our troops and their equipment … we relieve congested roadways in urban areas.”
Meanwhile, the current White House administration has been rushing to get planes flying again, with mixed progress. As reported by Politico, “preliminary discussions” are being held with nations such as England, attempting to form flight corridors solely between the given cities.
But whether this is achieved or not, air carriers would be missing a tremendous opportunity by choosing not to transform. Back in 2019, with environmental consciousness rising, predictions were made about declines in people’s eagerness to fly, according to the BBC.
Consumers have held corporations accountable on environmental issues in recent years, but airlines are lagging behind. Can the industry, shaken to its core by COVID-19, make positive moves toward sustainability with carbon-free flight?
Now, coupled with society’s growing inclination toward driving, the pre-pandemic world shouldn’t serve as a business model. Greener innovation could boost the airline industry’s image, saving money on fuel and potentially halting future pandemics — after all, according to USA Today, climate change has accelerated them.
Apart from necessitating the constant use of masks and social distancing, the coronavirus pandemic has created a shift in the nation’s psychology towards travel. With the world barriered off, the American continent demands exploration.
But with this standstill, things must not slide back into prior conditions. Greener industry changes should be taken advantage of while the financing of previously invisible sectors — such as public transport — could lead to a healthier future.
Filip De Mott is a junior media arts and design and international affairs double major. Contact Filip at email@example.com.