Thursday, 11 February 2021

World sanitiser


                                                            The author in Paros, October 2005

Nine months ago, I was maybe foolishly optimistic about the return of travel and the re-emergence of a revived travel industry. With all the talk of building back better and big resets, the industry that is still suffering from the pandemic fallout is travel. The hoped-for recovery just isn't happening, whether it's airlines, hotels or tour operators. Not surprising, as we have just had lockdown extended for the umpteenth time.

There's an article here from Springwise that tries to take a positive tone, about clever innovations within the travel industry to adapt to people's changed behaviour and need expectations as a result of the pandemic.

But can I be the only one that finds this dreary, and rather missing the point?

Whether it's art exhibitions or travelling exotic lands, there is a limit to how much virtuality you can take. Like those virtual shoes and outfits that some people apparently pay astonishing sums of real money for, the novelty wears off at some point. 

Virtual reality Japanese Onsen bathhouse experience? I'd prefer to wait for the real thing. One day.

Guest rooms in bubbles? Haven't we had enough of bubbles, from the filter sort to the friends and family sort?

Robots doing all the stuff that, in years gone by, came with a twinkling smile, a drink on the house that stretched into six, and stories about the days and nights they shot that famous Hollywood film in the bay round the coast ...

Contactless hotels, facial recognition technology ... yes, good. But the photos are cold and perfect and devoid of any human touch. Contactless, indeed.

All this stuff may be about "needs" and "changed behaviours", but what about desire?

I've got a yearning for dirt. Greasy spoon cafes and restaurants without a menu at all (and I don't mean it's all online). Heat and dust, colourful chaos, mess, adventure, surprises - the bad ones, too, that you can laugh about afterwards. Places so windy wearing a mask is laughable. Laughing about everything and anything.

A pre-pandemic, pre-Instagram, unsanitised world.

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