Covid 19 coronavirus: How different cultures are coping with lockdown

More time at home means being more present in the moment. Juliette Sivertsen looks at how some other cultures do it

We travel to expand our horizons, to explore somewhere new. Some travellers bring back souvenirs to remember the journey, others, a new way of living based on principles from another culture.

Where the English language often fails to succinctly encapsulate these concepts, other languages can summarise them in a single word.

Here are four foreign words to introduce to your lifestyle at home. The common thread between them is a sense of being present in the moment.


LAGOM

If there’s ever a time to listen to this word, it’s during a global crisis filled with panic-buying. This Swedish word roughly translates to “just the right amount” – not too much, not too little. It can also be translated as living a balanced life, a life with everything in moderation.


UBUNTU

Ubuntu is an African philosophy of connectedness, compassion and humanity. That somehow we are all connected to one another, and therefore must care for all those around us. Broken down, it means “I am, because of you”. You could have all the riches in the world, but without ubuntu, you cannot be complete.

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What Will US Travel Will Look Like After COVID-19?

Industry leaders are presaging that the face of the travel industry, as well as the ways in which people choose to travel, will be forever changed once we’ve reached the other side of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Opinions and forecasts cite several, sometimes disparate, sentiments believed to be brewing among the public while people remain confined to their homes under self-isolation orders.

Unsurprisingly, safety and a solid sense of security are assumed to be top-of-mind as travelers begin to venture out into the world again, post-coronavirus.

Some suppose that travelers may “test the water” cautiously, while others predict that, coming out of this lengthy isolation, people’s desire to shake off cabin fever will spur them to spring for more adventurous bucket-list-type getaways.

The prevailing opinion among the travel industry leaders we surveyed is that, initially, Americans will opt for experiences closer-to-home, concentrating on getting out-of-doors, seeking off-the-beaten-path locations, avoiding modes of mass transportation and traveling with small groups of trusted companions.

“We’re already beginning to see new trends take shape. For example, travelers will be wary of public transportation and plane travel, choosing to drive via their own cars to explore nearby destinations,” said Lisa Burns, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council. “We also predict there will be a larger emphasis on outdoor, open-air attractions and destinations as social distancing phases out slowly.”

Dan Yates, Managing Director of Pitchup.com agreed, “Even if the government gives the green light before summer, many will be reticent to travel and will choose remote, domestic locations like campgrounds over densely populated areas, certainly avoiding transport hubs like international airports.” Yates pointed out, “We also anticipate an increased interest in low-cost travel given the economic impact Coronavirus has inflicted on so many.”

Mary Quinn Ramer, President of VisitLEX, echoed the expectation, “We anticipate many travelers will still play it relatively safe by traveling in smaller groups and choosing closer-to-home, more familiar domestic travel after restrictions are lifted.” She said, “Following this long period of social distancing, we’ll find many people revisiting the places and experiences that fill them with joy.”

Phil Hospod, owner of Rhode Island’s The Wayfinder Hotel, also believes people will largely stick to traveling via private automobile, saying, “We expect to see families, friends, and couples jumping into their cars and hitting the open road. We also predict we’ll see more travelers choosing convenient, nostalgic vacation destinations.”

Despite these near-term trend forecasts, Ramer also predicts that people will be also eager to set things in motion for trips in the farther-off future.

“After being cooped up, people will start to put plans in place for destinations that have always been on their bucket list,” she said, “and they may even be more apt to try adventure-filled experiences with their renewed sense of freedom.”

Those who do travel internationally are expected to take steps to avoid crowds, opting for off-the-beaten-path locales and also booking during shoulder season.

Tomohiro Murakami and Mika White, Founders of Tourism Exchange Japan, said that they expect Japan-bound travelers to seek out smaller, lesser-known prefectures, rather than spending the majority of their stays in over-populated cities like Tokyo and Osaka.

Reflecting upon the effects that our collective, pent-up wanderlust is having on society in lockdown, Paul McGowan, Founder of Study Hotels, said, “Above all, we must remember that travel is an antidote to all this: providing positive, aspirational feelings in the wake of our current confinement.”

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Travel agents stay connected with virtual events coronavirus

When joining an online Zoom meeting hosted by a travel
agency, one isn’t usually greeted by the sound of C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna
Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).” 

But that’s exactly what attendees of Largay Travel’s meeting
got on Friday, March 20, when the agency hosted its first virtual dance party.

As many across the country have been ordered to shelter in
place and practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of Covid-19,
the typically extroverted travel agency community has turned to the internet
for everything from video meetings to peer interactions, to, yes, even virtual
dance parties and happy hours.

“Times are tough all around for everyone, and we just have
to remember to support each other in any and every way possible,” said Amanda
Klimak, the president of Waterbury, Conn.-based Largay. 

Besides, she said, it’s crucial to “emotionally, physically,
help each other out.”

Largay’s first virtual dance party was open to everyone,
including advisors from Largay and beyond, suppliers and clients. It also drew
a fair number of children, cats and dogs among its 81 attendees. Even Virtuoso
CEO Matthew Upchurch stopped by with his wife, Jessica Upchurch, Virtuoso’s
sustainability ambassador.

“Everybody was so excited to just see everyone else being
silly, and it was just nice for 15 minutes for everyone to laugh,” Klimak said.

That was the root from which the idea grew, offering travel
advisors, who have been hit 24/7 with an onslaught of concerned clients, travel
warnings and a multitude of supplier policy changes, a chance to decompress,
even if for just a few minutes.

Largay isn’t just holding dance parties online. The agency’s
annual retreat was originally scheduled for this week but was canceled. Now, it
will be held fully online on Thursday and Friday, April 2 and 3. The agency has
also started a “meditation Monday” online event, and it is encouraging advisors
to post photos of their favorite souvenirs on social media with the hashtag
#souvenirsaturday.

Klimak said it wasn’t difficult to move online, as Largay
was used to hosting things such as sales calls on Google Hangouts or Zoom.

“We were already most of the way there” before the
coronavirus crisis began, she said. “But what we really started training [our
advisors on] was on how do you have client meetings via Zoom? How do you have
client events via Zoom? So we’re going to be doing virtual cocktail parties and
all sorts of different things.”

Especially at a time when almost everyone is under some sort
of order to either shelter in place or remain socially distant from others,
video has taken on added importance, Klimak said. 

“I think the phone is great, and having conversations is
wonderful, but there is so much more gained when you can look someone in the
eye and be able to talk to them,” she said. “What we really found is that the
best way to keep people from getting super-depressed or feeling even more
isolated is to just use video as much as possible.”

She finds it doesn’t detract from the seriousness of the
situation that agencies are facing.

“Believe me, we all need to deal with the reality of the
situation,” she said. “But we do need to allow ourselves still to be happy at
moments and maintain our emotional health, because that’s just as important as
our physical health.”

Ensemble Travel Group is also encouraging members to connect
online.

The consortium has started a new initiative,
#EnsembleStrong, via a private Facebook group for members.

Alexa Wheeler, Ensemble’s brand marketing and communication
specialist, said the group is meant to be a way for advisors to talk business
as well as to share some more positive things with each other.

“As everyone knows, right now there is a lot of emotion
around everything going on with Covid-19, and it’s hard to stay positive,
especially in our industry,” Wheeler said “And industry leaders keep saying
that it will get better, but it’s hard to see the light at the end of the
tunnel right now. 

“We wanted to just create a movement for our members with,
like, a sacred place (so to call it), where they can go for positive advice,
positive feedback, inspiration, funny memes,” she said. “Anything that will
just help them, whether it’s making their day or advice on what they could do
for their own business.”

Wheeler conducted a poll among the group’s members to see
what kind of content they were interested in. Most wanted sharable content for
their own audiences, followed by positive, industry-related updates, then “just
for laughs” content and inspirational content.

After Ensemble canceled several meetings recently, creating
a space for members to interact became even more important, she said.

“Unfortunately, that has to be done online now, but as long
as they have that space to do it, they seem, so far, to be very appreciative of
the efforts,” Wheeler said. “It’s a way that they can get through the difficult
times together.”

Tom Ogg, founder and co-owner of TravelProfessional
Community.com, said the site has seen an uptick in traffic related to
coronavirus. The site is free for advisors, but they are vetted before they
gain entrance to the community of around 16,000.

The site houses quite a bit of content, Ogg said, but there
is one area agents gravitate to: the forum. It’s the place where advisors can
start threads about any number of professional topics. Naturally, a number have
been related to coronavirus lately, including discussions about suppliers (who
are not permitted on the site) and business survival tactics.

Now more than ever, he said, it’s important for travel
advisors to interact with their peers for professional advice and even some
fun.

In Klimak’s view, “Our industry right now is under siege,
and even if we can’t financially help each other, we can at least emotionally
help each other and be kind to one another in this industry. It’s so
important.”

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Hand luggage: How to keep your luggage clean from coronavirus when travelling – top tips

After just a week into the coronavirus lockdown in the UK, many weary travellers have grown familiar with how to protect themselves from the deadly coronavirus. Airplanes, hotel rooms and crowded areas have all become no-go zones for regular people unless you’re having to travel for an essential reason. But even day-to-day while travelling to the shops for essentials, how do you keep your belongings and clothes clean?

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Can you catch the dreaded bug or spread it via your clothes?

Medical experts have said the threat is low but have also suggested several precautions to help ease people’s minds.

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According to research conducted on the coronavirus, the virus can spread through particles in the air and via contaminated surfaces.

The virus is typically expelled when a person coughs or sneezes so the particles can land clothing.

If no one around you has tested positive for the virus then you should wash your clothes as normal.

But if you’re out shopping and people are not adhering to social distancing rules then it might be an idea to wash your clothes as soon as you get home.

If someone in your household does have covid-19 then extra precautions should be taken.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended wearing disposable gloves when handling clothes and then discarding the gloves afterwards.

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Your hands should be cleaned after using the gloves.

Another tip is not to shake dirty laundry as you could disperse the virus into the air.

The CDC has confirmed that washing clothes with detergent will also kill the virus.

But metal, plastic and glass are more frienfly habitats for viruses with research suggesting that the virus can live on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours.

When travelling, a canvas tote bag or rucksack might be preferable to a carry-on with an aluminium handle or a plastic suitcase.

Ann Falsey, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in New York said the virus can generally last less than a day on fabrics and other porous materials, and 30 minutes to an hour on hands.

However, Ms Falsey also said that instead of washing your clothes you could always just leave them.

She said simply: “Don’t use them for a week and the virus will die.”

Greg Poland, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said that to catch the virus from luggage, you would need a very specific series of events to occur.

He said: “You’d literally have to have someone sneeze all over it, get mucus on it and then, within minutes to a few hours, you would have to touch your bag and then your face.”

He suggested that concerned travellers should wipe down the parts of their luggage that have been touched by other people.

Mr Poland also suggested putting anything that could be contaminated out in the sun as the humidity and temperature along with the UV will disrupt the virus.

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Flight warning: Airline tickets could be given tobacco-style warnings – here’s why

The coronavirus pandemic has seen less people travelling abroad and more people being forced to enjoy local walks and their homes. Although coronavirus has been a huge inconvenience for most people who have cancelled their summer holiday plans, the virus has also had a positive impact on the environment.

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With millions around the world either out of a job or working from home, factories have been forced to close and people aren’t driving or flying as regularly.

All of this has led to a massive drop in air pollution which kills a shocking 4.2million people every year.

The last few months have seen a huge change in air quality, especially in places like Wuhan, northern Italy, London and parts of the US.

In the UK, the lockdown has seen toxic small particulate matter drop by as much as 50 percent.

Now, experts are urging that tobacco-style health warnings should be displayed on airline tickets, petrol pumps and fossil fuels.

Experts writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) have called for the warnings to be slapped on airline tickets to tell people that burning fossil fuels worsens the climate emergency which impacts people’s health.

The warning labels, like those on tobacco products, will be displayed at points of purchase such as at petrol stations, on energy bills, and on airline tickets.

The potential move is a low cost way to encourage people to change their behaviour as part of efforts to cut fossil fuel use and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions which are fuelling rising global temperatures.

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The group of experts has been led by Dr Mike Gill who is a former regional director of public health.

He helped create the health warnings that cigarettes and tobacco products have to carry today, which have helped make smoking less socially acceptable.

The experts have said that similar to smoking, fossil fuels harm others as well as the person using them.

But unlike cigarettes, fossil fuels harm future generations as well.

The experts suggest:”Warning labels connect the abstract threat of the climate emergency with the use of fossil fuels in the here and now.”

Like tobacco products, there would also be restrictions on advertising by fossil fuel companies.

The experts have said that the restricted adverting would prevent misleading claims about investments in renewables when this is only accounts for a fraction of their plans.

While fossil fuels are already on the forefront of most governments’ minds, more action is needed to keep global temperatures below 2C (F).

The UK has a target to cut emissions to net zero by 2050.

The Government is hoping that by being ambitious, it will encourage other nations to do the same in the run up to key “Cop26” UN climate talks due to take place in Glasgow in November.

The experts added: “There is an opportunity for national and local governments to implement labelling of fossil fuels in the run-up to Cop26 in Glasgow and in particular for the UK Government, as the host of the Cop, to show leadership, as part of a package of measures to accelerate progress on getting to ‘net zero’ emissions.

“When the Covid-19 pandemic eventually wanes labelling could play an important role in helping to reduce the risk of a rapid rebound in greenhouse gas emissions as the economy expands.”

It is likely that Covid-19 global cases will hit one million in the next few days.

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A Bataclan survivor’s wheelchair journey across New Zealand

On November 13, 2015, Pierre Cabon was injured in the Bataclan attacks in Paris. The bullet hit his spine, and he lost the use of his legs. Five years later, he and his partner Myriam are taking on the Tongariro Crossing – and the world

March 2020. We are at the foot of Tongariro. Before our eyes, the first section of the Alpine Crossing winds between rocks and wild grasses. There are 19km ahead of us that we dream of conquering. We take a last glance, then we set off: we’ll go as far as we can. We can’t contain this need to try, this urge to take up this great challenge.

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November 2015. In Pierre’s hospital room. The doctors are clear: he won’t walk again. The bullet he received during the first few minutes of the terrorist attacks at the Bataclan, Paris, punctured his lung, hit his spine and damaged his spinal cord. He knew straight away that he wouldn’t walk again and now the doctor confirms: paraplegic. From now on, we’ll have to learn to live differently.

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Cruise holidays: Sailing Italy and Croatia with Holland America

PRINT HEAD:
PRINT BLURB: writes Neil Porten

The last time I saw Croatia from a ship was in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean; in the warm 3am darkness Croatia was there, huge and bright. Then, our encounter lasted just over 90 minutes as the Vatreni (“Fiery Ones”) succumbed to France in the Fifa World Cup final, watched by me and a couple of dozen football fans on the ship’s giant poolside video screen.

Now, Croatia is right there in front of me again, huge and bright, and if I lean out over the railing of MS Koningsdam I can almost touch the fiery terracotta tiles on the roofs of Dubrovnik.

The famous walled town is the first port of call on a 13-day round-trip voyage from Rome, taking in highlights in the Adriatic Sea, as well as Sicily, Malta and Naples on the return leg. We’re sailing in a heatwave — it’s the hottest June ever recorded in Europe — but Koningsdam, Holland America Line’s 99,500 ton, 297m long Pinnacle class ship launched in 2016, is the perfect vessel to coolly and calmly transport us under cloudless blue Mediterranean skies.

Rome’s sea port is Civitavecchia, 80km north of the Eternal City, and Koningsdam is waiting there at the long concrete pier, 14 decks above the waterline; navy-blue hull, orange-topped lifeboats, white superstructure, dark-tinted windows and glass balconies. Security procedures, check-in and boarding are quick and easy; we are in our stateroom, bags already delivered within half an hour.

Verandah stateroom 5157, starboard midship, overlooks lifeboats 17, 19 and 21 and the Promenade on deck 3. The decor is cream, with brushed bronze cornices and beech veneer — smoothing and restful. There’s a two-seater sofa, desk, chair, lighted mirror, plenty of power outlets, bedside charging ports, and ample storage. The TV is a portal to on-demand movies, music and shows, restaurant menus, ship and trip information, live forward and aft cameras.

In the tiled bathroom, the shower stall is large, and the shower itself is full-strength and simple to use. In the coming days, the Elemis toiletries perform admirably during the heatwave. And the long, firm bed, crisp sheets, long and short pillow combo, blackout curtains, double-glazing and ruthlessly efficient air-con create a haven for sleeping at any time of the day or night. The floor-level sensor light is a nice touch, proving handy for tripless trips to the bathroom in the dark.

The next few hours before we sail is the perfect opportunity to explore our home for the next two weeks. Music inspires the decor onboard. Harps, a double crown in chrome, encircles the three-deck atrium. The B.B. King’s Blues Club/Lincoln Center Stage is a cocoon of varnished wood curved like a cello. Five decks are named for composers, and much of the US$4 million of art is musically inspired. Each space is a careful composition of deep carpet, leather chairs and polished surfaces.

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US Travel says The rescue bill will not be enough

The U.S. Travel Association called the coronavirus rescue
bill, named the Cares Act, a “lifeline for the travel industry,” but emphasized
it was a relief package and that more help would soon be needed. 

“There are a lot of really good things in here that will
help travel and tourism businesses of all different sizes and types, and that’s
what our goal was,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel’s executive vice president
of public affairs and policy. “But suffice to say it’s a relief package and not
a stimulus. It’s a bridge but it’s likely we’ll need to have additional help.
This is a really good step and there’s a lot of really good help in here,
assuming the government can execute quickly and get the money out the door.” 

The bill includes many things for which U.S. Travel had
lobbied, such as $377 billion in loans and loan forgiveness for small travel
businesses and self-employed individuals; $454 billion in federally backed
financial assistance for impacted businesses; tax relief to mitigate losses and
allow businesses to use cash to pay employees and temporarily defer tax
liability; and access to an Employee Retention Tax Credit. 

The organization also praised the $10 billion in airport
grants to support vital air operations.

Barnes said this relief would help travel and tourism
businesses “keep the lights on and keep employees” in hopes that the public
health crisis will subside. She emphasized this was not a “bailout,” which she
said can imply there was bad behavior on the part of those needing to be “bailed
out.”

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Travel inspiration: Northern Lights in Canada’s isolated north

On cold clear winter nights in Canada’s frozen north, the sky catches fire. Ribbons of neon green dance overhead, punctuated by occasional flashes of red.

Locals say it pops and fizzes in eerie silence. It is this fireworks display, the Aurora Borealis, that I have travelled more than 12,000km to see.

There are no guarantees of course. Solar and weather conditions have to be just right, but this part of Canada’s Northern Rockies is within the North Pole’s Auroral Zone and also has virtually nothing in the way of man-made light pollution, so your chances in the winter months from September through to March, are good.

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A prime viewing destination is the Muncho Lake and the nearby Liard Hot Springs in Fort Nelson. It’s more than 1500km from Vancouver, but that distance can be covered in a matter of hours with two short, regional plane hops, followed by a 250km trip north along the Alaska Highway.

Fort Nelson was once a booming mining and gas town but now, like so much of rural Canada, it is having to reinvent itself. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, it was reaching out to tourists, launching an annual Northern Lights Festival held every March. Its tagline is “Welcome to your #bucketlist adventure” … when the world returns to normal, the town will have even more need to bolster its tourism industry and you should definitely consider adding a trip to your list.

In the interests of retaining its character and appeal, the town has been careful to preserve its pioneering heritage and wilderness lifestyle, thanks to some dedicated locals, like Marl Brown.

Now 87, he worked as a mechanic for the Canadian Army in the1950s not long after the Alaska Highway was built. He began collecting items the Army discarded, including some very large machinery, and by the seventies, he had so much stuff the town got involved and fundraised to build a museum to house his treasures.

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