MY final column of a calendar year is usually reserved for a recap, a mini review of the year, if you like.
So here goes. Covid-19. It’s been unimaginably horrific. That’s 2020 covered.
So let’s move on to 2021.
Assuming health regulators around the world approve the various vaccines in development, 2021 is looking more upbeat than any of us dared hope.
That’s not to suggest the industry will be back on its feet in a hurry. There is some way to go, many months in reality, before any meaningful recovery is underway. Nevertheless, there are reasons to be cheerful.
No sooner had vaccines become a genuine reality than Qantas revealed a Covid shot in the arm will be mandatory for all passengers on international services.
Given the year we’ve endured, perhaps it’s wise. But it also demonstrates the ultra-cautious approach Australia has taken, and will continue to take.
I expect the government to go further and make vaccinations a condition for anyone entering Australia. That also may be prudent, but it will also delay the desperately needed recovery until deep into 2021 when vaccines are more widely available.
Furthermore, reaction to Qantas’s future policy was mixed, and it wasn’t just anti-vaxxers crying foul. There were plenty who objected to a commercial entity instructing them to get a vaccine. The same objections are likely to be aired if the Australian Government makes the same demands.
As for outbound travel, a much-vaunted booking frenzy is inevitable in 2021. What is uncertain is when. Could the government permit international travel from Australia while continuing to lock out visitors until the vaccine is widespread? It’s unlikely. What is more feasible is a gradual opening of travel bubbles with New Zealand, Singapore and Korea.
Whatever 2021 has in store, at least we can approach it with a little more optimism.