A currently trending topic is Americans’ strong willingness to travel amid the looming number of COVID-19 cases all within the country and all over the world. A recent survey of 746 US residents asserts that 72% plan to travel in 2020 while 91% of them aim to take either domestic or international trips. The said survey shows that despite the present travel bans imposed on Americans bound for Europe and other countries around the world, overseas travel is both due to preference and necessity for many of the respondents.
According to the same survey, 64% profess that COVID-19 has heavily affected their travel capacity in the coming months. They mention that some of the consequences of the COVID-19 situation are the following:
- Quarantine protocols;
- Health risks;
- Prioritization of basic necessities;
- Unemployment issues;
- Depleted savings;
- Travel restrictions/bans
In a separate June study, it was found out that 46 million Americans plan to travel via a recreational vehicle (RV) within the next 12 months—a sudden increase from the 2019 survey that cites only 25 million planning to do the same.
Most US residents mention that they want to visit several places including Colorado, Wyoming, Maine, Oregon, and Vermont this coming winter. Included in the same list are California, Hawaii, Nevada, South Carolina, and Utah.
Most of the states mentioned currently have the lowest number of COVID-19 deaths:
- Hawaii has only 2 deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants;
- Wyoming records 4 deaths per 100,000 residents;
- Oregon has 6 deaths for every 100,000 individuals; and
- Utah has 8 deaths per 100,000 people.
The data shows that most American travellers seem to research the COVID-19 situation in their intended travel destination before finalizing their vacation plans.
When asked about when they plan to travel, just 14% of the respondents mention that they would want to take either an international or domestic trip right now. Similarly, 41% express the desire to travel as soon as travel restrictions are lifted, while 35% say that they plan to take a trip when a viable vaccine becomes available.
Despite the ever-increasing threat of COVID-19 infection worldwide and the ever-tightening travel restrictions imposed by various national and local governments, many Americans still express a strong desire to travel inside and outside the United States domestically and internationally. Nonetheless, the above-mentioned findings assert that many Americans desire to visit areas with few COVID-19 deaths.
Alongside the on-going race to find a potent vaccine to eradicate and prevent COVID-19 infection is the consistent and famous American pursuit of freedom and fulfillment—a poignant, yet inspiring, characteristic that must be perpetuated amid the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths within the country and all over the world. The pervading hope that everything eventually returns to normal is something that keeps everyone going despite the drastic changes due to this unprecedented catastrophe.
Tourist Experiences Bad Luck, Returns Pompeii Artifacts
A Canadian woman returned Pompeii artifacts, 15 years after they were stolen from the Pompeii site.
Prof. Massimo Ossana, the Archeological Park of Pompeii’s temporary director released a statement last Tuesday confirming the return of five stolen artifacts that were sent back via a travel agency. The said agency, then, contacted the Carabinieri police regarding the matter.
The artifacts, which were accompanied by a letter, were brought back to the archeological park. However, they cannot be returned to their specific, original spots within Pompeii’s old ruins. “Obviously they cannot be relocated because their precise origin is not known,” Osanna shared.
According to The Guardian and CNN, the Canadian tourist’s missive narrated her experiences of bad luck right after she took the Pompeii artifacts back in 2005. She mentioned that she went through financial and health problems because of them. “We are good people and I don’t want to pass this curse on to my family,” the woman explained.
In relation to the incident, Ossana mentioned that stolen artifacts get frequently sent back to the archeological park that features the ruins of an ancient Roman city that got destroyed by the violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Many of these items are returned due to the same reason—that the artifacts are accompanied by a curse, bestowing ill luck to those who take them from their resting place.
“For several years, the Archaeological Park of Pompeii has been receiving letters from visitors who, on the occasion of their visit, had taken small objects (we are talking about mosaic tiles, small shards, stones, pieces of plaster, lapilli), of little value, but part of unique archaeological heritage, and that they decided after years to return, claiming to have derived only bad luck from that act,” the Archeological Park of Pompeii’s statement said.
Consequently, the statement also mentioned that the supposed curse that accompanies the artifacts found at the park serves as an effective deterrent for anyone who wishes to take or steal other Pompeii items in the future. “But we hope that an international civil awareness towards cultural heritage in general will increase, regardless of the fear of a bad luck that could affect those who make such gestures,” Osanna continued.
Stealing items from famous archaeological sites and tourist destinations is a rampant activity. However, visitors to these heritage areas must be aware of the necessity to preserve these artifacts because they serve as actual, historical objects that provide current and future generations with the means to understand how our ancestors lived in the past. Preserved artifacts are living testaments to the people who came before us, offering us a glimpse into their lives—how they lived, how they interacted with one another, and how they died.
Knowing what happened in the past—how people survived in the past—provides us with the necessary knowledge to improve our present lives and the lives of future generations. Hence, it is essential for everyone to preserve these archaeological and historical sites—and understand the significance of their continued presence in our modern existence.
Thailand Plans to Welcome Back International Tourists by October
Hope is knocking on the door of travelers who are anxious to spend their Christmas holidays in Thailand. However, provided that they are willing to spend a few weeks in a kingdom with limited areas.
During a public forum held in August 2020, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism, said that the country is planning to allow foreign tourists to enter the country under the program, Safe and Sealed. He claims that he has already asked the prime minister to approve the expected date of opening on October 1. Ratchakitprakarn says that he has already requested Phuket as a model and has gotten approval from the Center for Economic Situation Administration. Upon launching the program, tourists will be able to enter Thailand’s largest island, Phuket. However, travelers will need to stay in quarantine in a selected resort for not more than 14 days upon arriving.
According to Phipat, the famous Patong Beach is an excellent example wherein three to four resorts are set up there. Keeping the tourists in the area would allow them to spend time on a beach, given that they would stay in their designated areas. Travelers are also required to get tested for COVID-19 at the beginning and the end of their allotted quarantine period. However, the minister says that tourists who want to travel outside of Phuket would have to undergo a third COVID-19 test and have an extension of seven days under quarantine. Besides that, hotel staff who work in the designated areas aren’t allowed to leave the premises without taking a COVID-19 test and going into quarantine.
Governor Yuthasak Supasorn of the Tourism Authority of Thailand has told CNN that the government has approved the travel plan. The next phase would be holding a public hearing to obtain the residents’ approval.
The Step for the Future
Like most countries who have always relied on tourism, Thailand has been hit pretty hard by the pandemic. Aside from having all international commercial flights being banned, the residents on returning flights would have to be put into quarantine for 14 days. Gratefully, Thailand hasn’t had a locally transmitted COVID-19 case for more than three months now, which gives travelers a sense of relief as they go on trips for the weekends. Managing director Bill Barnet of the Asia-focused consulting firm C9 Hotelwork claims that welcoming international travelers is the right step.
According to Barnet, COVID-19 is different compared to other events like 9/11 and the restart of traveling. He claims that the Safe and Sealed program may not be a silver bullet, but a step forward against “the deer in headlights position.”
He diminishes any form of criticism that says the project may be too restrictive. Barnet claims that Phuket has proven its appeal as a destination for people looking to escape the winter season. Barnet notes that Russians, Britons, Germans, and Scandinavians have always returned to Phuket yearly and stay long-term guests. He claims that the moment the temperature drops in Europe, the people will quickly mark Phuket as one of their destinations.
Japanese Airlines and their Procedures with COVID-19
Before COVID-19, global conversations about hygiene were already in the mix. If there were one thing that travelers wouldn’t want to touch in an airplane, it would be the bathroom door. Thus, the Japanese Airline ANA went out to test a new hands-free bathroom door wherein passengers could open them with their forearm or their elbows. One challenge that the airlines are facing is the lack of space. Regular lavatory doors have small or flat handles and open inward to lessen the aisle blockage. Despite being hygienic, ANA’s prototype also consumed a mass amount of space. At first, the Japanese Airline proposed that the passengers could open the doors with their feet. However, this idea was stopped because of multiple safety issues.
Nevertheless, the door comes with a spring attached handle, which allows you to press the handle instead of pulling it. Conceptualized by JAMCO, a Japanese company that is known for its products in the aviation industry. They are famous for their excellent inputs for galleys, airplane seats, and bathrooms.
The door was created to make the airplanes more hygienic. A study in 2018 found that the bathroom door handle is the third dirtiest area on an aircraft after the seat pocket and the headrest.
It was then tested in ANA’s lounge at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in between June and May. It was found that the door can be opened from the outside by only using a forearm or an elbow. Inside the bathroom, passengers can lock the door by sliding a large button with their elbow.
Travelers currently flying onboard an ANA aircraft are advised to follow their strict protocol of wearing a facemask and other essential face coverings to prevent the virus’s spread. Aside from that, ANA also has a unique self-service to cater to travelers checking their bags. Most of the ANA’s crew members are also tasked to wear both masks and face shields to reduce the virus’s risk of spreading.
Prevention is better than cure
Haneda Airport, Japan Airlines, also known as JAL, has been testing new check-in screens that don’t need to be touched. Travelers can access the screens by holding a finger about three centimeters above them. JAL has also encouraged passengers to check-in online before arriving at the airport.
According to ANA’s president and CEO, Yuji Hirako, in one of his statements during the announcement of the Airline’s new ANA Care Promise cleanliness program. He mentioned that when one begins to travel by air again, the airlines offer the same comfort and enjoyment before the novel coronavirus.
The Airline claims to have hygiene measures such as onboard air filters in which the same quality are from hospital operating rooms. The Airline is also prepared with regular disinfection of every surface on the plane and lavatory doors.
The company claims that it will first ask passengers’ opinions about the door before deciding what to do and how to use it soon.
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