… is of course COVID-19, the Coronavirus
How is it affecting me? So far, it’s not a good news story. I’ve now had two China Tours cancelled, and this represents a significant financial hit, which could be as much as 30% of my annual income. As things stand, I have no work for the next five weeks, and as to the remaining Tours… anything could happen. I’m very grateful to both Great Rail Journeys and The Railway Touring Company for trying to find me alternative work. At least I now have more time at home to watch my savings plummet as the markets crash.
Since I live in a small countryside village, my opportunities for catching and transmitting the virus are reduced in comparison to folk in the city, but this is cold comfort given that as a 60 year old male, I’m entering the prime danger area for those infected.
We, are the people who work frontline in the Travel Industry. Every time I lapse into self-pity I have to take a step back and remember those that I work with overseas, our Local Guides.
I know that many of our Local Guides and Hotel Staff are losing as much money, or more, than I am, while living in countries where many of the support mechanisms and wages in general are significantly lower than the UK. I know that many have been told of 20% – 30% pay cuts, furloughs, lay-offs and voluntary redundancies.
I also remember my friends in the airline industry – Cabin Crew, Pilots & Engineers, who are facing worrying times.
Us refers to my industry in general. Travel & Tourism are being hit harder than most, and it’s going to take some careful work by the companies that I work with to ensure survival. The talk is that, unlike the 2008 crash, the financial hit of the virus is relatively short term, rather than the more permanent structural damage inflicted by the last crash or 9/11. The problem is that a 6 month effective shutdown of the industry may mean that when folks decide to travel again, later this year or next, there may be very few companies still in business.
Them, refers to the villains of this drama. Foremost among them are the media who have gleefully whipped up hysteria and misinformation since the crisis began. Both BBC and Sky News are guilty, and I now refuse to watch them anymore. Additional villains are Social Media, seemingly taken over with comment from people who know little and understand even less. The final villains are those people panic buying Toilet Rolls. It takes a special kind of stupidity to behave like this, and depressingly we see that idiots are more widespread than we realised.
“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, inaugural address 1933