Our group of 10, plus one driver and one guide who upon landing were with us consistently throughout our trip, left for a glorious 10-day FAM trip to Morocco having taken every precaution recommended, and then some. We followed the guidelines requiring a negative PCR test prior to leaving the US, masked up for the flights, socially distanced as best we could, washed our hands and continued to sanitize and, most important, everyone in the group had been fully vaccinated.
Upon preparing for our return, one unfortunate sole tested Covid positive.
So, what does this all mean for future travelers and our industry? First, that person is doing fine with no symptoms whatsoever. He is resting comfortably and feeling good, working remotely and the hotel and DMC are making every accommodation possible, so his unplanned extended stay inconvenience is at a minimum and the issue of additional cost is made as affordable as possible.
Second, it is clear to us that this could happen to anyone, anywhere and for now, at any time. A positive Covid test, despite all precautions, knows no geographic boundaries as of this writing.
But what this episode should really tell us is that despite honoring all travel requirements and taking abundant precautions, there is no surefire guarantee that even if vaccinated, a positive test can happen. Of course, as time passes and countries vaccinate more of their populations and there’s greater herd immunity, chances of positive tests will decline. We all must realize, however, that the world will never be at zero chance of a positive test. It’s just a fact of life we will all have to live with.
So, as we counsel our traveling clients, it is incumbent upon us to do two things. One, let them know about all the precautions they should be taking up front to significantly minimize their chance of testing positive. Two, let them know that should they test positive, we will work with them, the destinations and on the ground people we work with regularly to assist and service as many of their needs as possible to get them through their ordeal. Sure, it is an inconvenience and could involve additional and unplanned costs. However, such matters are more the exception than the norm. Working with a trusted and knowledgeable travel industry professional with reliable contacts will make all the difference in the world should something happen, both in terms of minimizing the inconvenience and costs.
So, while our magical trip remains just that, magical for all of us, including the person testing positive who told me he would do it all again no matter his current situation, now more than ever, it’s critical for our entire travel industry family, from advisors to DMC’s to hotels, airlines…everyone, to step forward, be smart and available and pitch in to keep our industry as safe as possible and moving forward. We must be ready, just in case, to manage these types of occurrences properly and humanely. Our livelihoods and the future of travel depend upon it!
Brad Beaty and Giuseppe Di Palma, Owners of Lush Experiences