Yes, the dive travel industry — and the global economy as a whole right now — is facing a challenge like no other, but once protective measures help the COVID-19 pandemic burn itself out (however many months that may take), the future looks bright for those travelers who want to fill their bucket list by visiting a longed-for dive destination, according to travel industry vet Cheryl Patterson of scuba tour operator Deep Blue Adventures.
Patterson has seen her share of travel industry upheavals, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the ensuing years when she worked for American Airlines.
“Sadly what we are facing now will massively surpass any effects that [9/11] had on our industry and for a long time to come. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I fear for many businesses large and small in the dive and travel industries.”
“As with September 11th however there were many stories of resilience and survival followed by growth and success. The industry changed shape permanently in many ways after 9/11. Some of them for the better, some just different and I believe we will see this again. This will all be over at some point but until that time we need to come together to minimize casualties. Ultimately we are all stakeholders in the same business and we need to work together and completely support each other during this time.”
For consumers with upcoming travel already booked, “all we can ask for is patience and understanding. Not just for the resort or travel professional’s sakes but to help you navigate through these crazy times.”
Patterson emphasized that this was new territory for everyone, and a lot of businesses will be figuring their way out just like everyone else.
“Try to bear in mind that everyone involved ultimately wants the same as you – for you to have the vacation you paid for and have nothing but amazing experiences at your chosen destination. But just like you they only want you there if it’s smart and safe for you and for the residents and employees.”
She noted that the travel industry is doing all it can to make buying travel now to use later attractive.
“Many resorts, dive operations, liveaboards and major airlines are offering risk-free terms for new bookings such as payments being fully refundable and change fees or penalties waived. And because of the current climate there are some serious steals available. By purchasing travel now, you can lock in on a great deal to look forward to as things get back to normal and if lasts longer than anticipated or you simply can’t make the plans work as you approach your travel date you can cancel or change it. It’s a win-win situation for travelers and a buyers’ market! It also means customers are injecting some much-needed cash into those businesses now to get them through empty rooms and boat spaces.”