The tourism industry currently accounts for 10% of global GDP. Coronavirus has hit that industry hard, and Asia is expected to be the worst affected according the World Travel and Tourism Council. With Australia’s borders shut indefinitely, it can be a while until our tourism recovers. It has been estimated that it can take up to ten months after the outbreak for the industry to recover, and some aspects of it may be irreparably damaged.
We reached out to some of the top Australian and international travel personalities. We asked them to share where they found themselves as the world closed and how they are finding their new home-bound status. We will continue to publish these stories throughout the coming weeks.
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Home: Madrid, Spain
After becoming the youngest Spaniard to visit every country in the world in December 2019 Alvaro took a few months off from traveling to write a book and only resumed travels in early March to attend the famous Holi Festival in India.
Did you find yourself stuck due to the outbreak of COVID-19?
I boarded my flight to Delhi normally on March 5th from Madrid, where I live. Only 222 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Spain at that point and only countries like China, Italy, Japan, Iran or South Korea were amongst the travel restrictions when entering India.
On March 11th, Spain had quickly climbed to the 5th overall in the global ranking, with over 2000 cases. That night, I had a 26 hour night train booked from Agra to Chennai. Fortunately, I was able to be connected to the updates and quickly realised how fast everything was escalating globally. Spain had been included in many countries’ travel restriction lists and some flights were starting to get canceled.
I have been to every country in the world and it’s a very difficult feat only 200 people in history have achieved.
It takes an enormous logistics effort and planning for many unforeseeable obstacles along the way. In all these years, never had I faced anything like it. I was especially worried about how fast the chain of events was escalating. I couldn’t guess what the short term future would look like, but I knew we’d have to brace for something unprecedented.
That’s why on March 13th I moved up my flight home and prepared for quarantine. On that day, cases had spiked to 4200 and reached 6200 when I landed on the 14th. That same night, the Spanish government announced the State of Emergency and a nationwide lockdown. Luckily I reacted quickly and avoided being stuck in lockdown in a foreign country away from my family.
Wherever you are in the world, try to make it home, and if you can’t, stay put and practice social distancing. If we all pull together and are responsible during this crisis, we’ll be out of it sooner!