In a year that’s seen most people unable to travel for leisure, the question on many people’s minds, including those whose livelihoods depend on the travel industry is: ‘When can we travel again?’ Will the vaccine determine that? And do we have the ‘right’ to travel during a global pandemic?
I may not have traveled much in the past year, but I’ve talked about it a lot. And it was during a panel discussion about the future of travel that I was struck by two comments from my fellow panelists.
One was that vaccines should not be mandatory for air travel because it would privilege the vaccinated. The other was that British travelers want to visit countries like New Zealand, because they are seen as safe.
Both remarks struck me as misunderstanding the situation: what we want is irrelevant; what we need is responsibility.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to travel again—my income depends on it. I also have close family in Holland, Australia and India who I want to see. But I believe it unlikely that other nations will prioritize my wanderlust over their own health and economies and believe that if we want a full return to international travel, I expect COVID-19 vaccinations to become effectively mandatory.