Covid-19 vaccines are a shot in the arm for the travel industry

With a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine here sooner than anyone thought, travel bookings are spiking

With the news that the first person has been vaccinated with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, things are beginning to look significantly rosier for the travel industry.

Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old from Enniskillen in the north of Ireland, received her jab in Coventry. She was quickly followed by the 81-year-old William Shakespeare, and 91-year-old Martin Kenyon. Kenyon quickly went viral after saying: “There’s no point in dying now when I’ve lived this long, is there?”

Each vaccine announcement has brought spikes in new bookings

Covid-19 vaccines are a shot in the arm for the travel industry
The Pfizer shot appears overwhelmingly safe for most, and effective — CDC / Unsplash

I don’t think anyone expected a Covid-19 vaccine to be rolled out quite so fast. These are things that usually take years to develop and pass safety controls in multiple jurisdictions. While there have been a few reports of people with a history of allergic reactions going into anaphylactic shock, the Pfizer shot appears overwhelmingly safe for most, and effective.

The vaccine is a shot in the arm for the travel industry. Research in the UK by data firm Adara has shown there have been significant spikes in bookings with each vaccine announcement. Pfizer’s led to a one-day surge of 19 per cent in the UK, Moderna’s brought 10 per cent, and the one-day increase for AstraZeneca’s was 28 per cent, with a 154 per cent week-on-week.

Travel still has challenges to face

Covid-19 vaccines are a shot in the arm for the travel industry
People on the younger side won’t be traveling for another year — Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash

However, there are still hurdles to come. As a relatively fit and healthy 35-year-old, I know I am very much towards the back of the immunisation queue. Only people under the age of 18 will receive it after I do. Generations X, Y and Z — long the most voracious travellers in the before times — will be unlikely to travel for pleasure for another year. But at least the older generations tend to spend more of their hard-earned cash.

There will also be a host of new regulations to contend with, on top of the new hygiene ones we already have. As is standard for some countries already, such as those with yellow fever and malaria, proof of Covid vaccination will be required to visit any other country. It’s quite possible that airlines as well as immigration will require these, plus a nose swab, and that OTAs will begin including checkboxes prior to purchase.

Over time, these will become a normal part of everyday travelling. We’ll have a brief moment of panic when we remember that we need to book the doctor’s appointment and check that our passport’s still in date. That’ll be it. All that pent-up demand for travel is very close to being released.

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