I feel very sorry for anyone involved in the travel industry during the covid 19 virus pandemic. Just as the travel industry starts to get back on its feet the government introduces new quarantine rules for anyone returning from France, The Netherlands and Malta. What I can’t understand though is why they introduced the new rules at such short notice, leading to a mass scramble to return from holiday from these countries. The UK government also advised against all but essential travel to France, the destination we were planning to visit in September. We are now faced with having to cancel our trip to France for the 2nd time this year.
As this pandemic has progressed I find myself becoming more cynical about the governments strategy in dealing with this unprecedented situation. They are taking a broad brush to the situation rather than being more focused in their actions. In my opinion, lock-downs are not local enough and everyone has their own risk factors. For example, a couple returning from a motorhome holiday in rural France, where they are self contained, are far lower risk than a couple returning from a city break holiday in Paris. Also, the data showing the actual number of infections in postal codes in the UK is impossible to find meaning that whole areas such as Greater Manchester have restrictions when the majority of people are probably complying with social distancing rules and are equally affected.
What is the risk of dying from Covid-19?
Statistics show that the risk of being killed in a road traffic accident is 1 in 20,000 in any one year and 1 in 240 in your lifetime. I read that the risk of dying from Covid-19 is 1 in 3,300 for under 65’s. For under 45’s it is around 1 in 21,000 and for under 34’s it is 1 in 66,653. For anyone aged over 75 the risk is 1 in 179. Older people are far more likely to hospitalised and die from this pandemic. Why, therefore, are we not targeting the over 75’s for more of the restrictions? Above statistics taken from The Daily Telegraph here
Whilst the government persists with its “sledgehammer to crack a nut” strategy the UK economy and in particular the travel and hospitality sector is being devastated. In recent years the travel industry has suffered from terrorism and airline failures, so they are used to battling through tough times but this pandemic will change the travel and tourism landscape for several years to come. I would not want to be a travel agent at this time. They are dealing with more refund requests than actual bookings!
What if there is no vaccine?
Another worrying fact is that countries like Spain, France, New Zealand and Australia are seeing rapid rises in infections after they thought that they had reduced their infection rate. The World Health Organisation has said that there may never be a vaccine to defeat the virus. If this is true then we either live with the virus and its consequences or try to defeat the virus in ways like we are seeing now. This, of course, will probably mean years of chaos in the travel industry and a major change to our travel habits and choice of holiday destinations.
UPDATE – Several vaccines were developed against Covid 19. These were rolled out to the general population in the UK with a lot of success. In my opinion the roll out of the Covid vaccine helped the UK relax its travel restrictions. The travel industry is one of the UK’s largest industries and foreign currency earners and it had been on its knees.
The UK versus France in a motorhome
France is the motorhome owners paradise. We love the fact that France welcomes motorhomes. It’s cheap to stay and it’s a huge country to explore. The UK is the opposite of France in that it’s expensive to stay on campsites and it is hard to park near to places of interest. Car parks are not built for motorhomes in this country but most French supermarkets have huge car parks. French motorhome ‘aires’ for overnight parking are often free or cost under 10 Euros whereas a UK campsite can cost £30 per night. The Caravan & Motorhome Club has a network of CL’s (certified locations) which cost anything between £12 and £16 per night but many have grass only pitches which limits their use for motorhomes in the winter.
To say that we are disappointed that we can’t go to France in September is an understatement. Plan B looks like a grey and wet motorhome holiday in the UK!
To see all my articles on our motorhome trips to France click here
David Brice is a retired travel & tourism lecturer and travel agent.