The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the travel industry, impacting tour operators and businesses everywhere, but there are still some encouraging news stories that don’t make headlines. Locals are serenading each other across windowsills in Italy and Spain, animal shelters are seeing an increase in foster applications and stores are offering exclusive hours for the elderly. Communities are coming together like never before.
Right now the coronavirus pandemic is taking over our social media feeds and giving us worst-case scenarios, but gleams of hope do exist and it’s important to look at some of the positive things going on around the world. We’re not here to take away the seriousness of this pandemic, but rather provide some uplifting news in difficult times. So let’s take a look at some positive travel-related news.
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Travel Businesses Are Helping the Community
Travel businesses, both big and small, are being severely impacted by this devasting pandemic. It’s important to recognize some of the big-brand companies that are helping out their local communities so we as travelers can stay loyal to them when travel resumes back to normal.
–Airbnb is offering free or subsidized housing for up to 100,000 healthcare providers, relief workers, and first responders that allow them to be close to their patients — and safely distanced from their own families.
–Caesars donates more than 250,000 pounds of food and thousands of medical supplies such as gloves, masks and hand sanitizer to local hospitals and first responders.
–MGM Resorts pledged $1 million to an employee emergency grant fund and donated over 400,000 meals across the U.S. (Bruno Mars also donated to the MGM Resorts Foundation)
–The Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan offered free lodging to doctors, nurses and other health care workers.
–U.S. Breweries and Distilleries are repurposing brewing equipment and making hand sanitizer for hospitals, nursing homes, first responders and the general public.
–JetBlue will use its empty planes to shuttle incoming medical volunteers to New York State for free.
–Hyatt is establishing an employee fund. President Mark Hoplamazian and chairman Tom Pritzker are forgoing 100 percent of their salaries, and the company’s senior leadership team is taking a 50 percent salary cut through the end of May.
–Yelp pledged $25 million to independent businesses impacted by the coronavirus. Relief will come in the form of waived ad fees, a $100 advertising credit for restaurants that offer takeout and delivery, and more.
–Delta Airlines is supporting medical professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis by offering free flights to certain regions of the U.S. that have been significantly impacted.
–Wynn Resorts is donating more than $2.5 million worth of goods, including 240,000 N95 equivalent CDC approved respirator masks, 600,000 surgical masks, 500,000 pairs of medical gloves and thousands of medical gowns to area hospitals.
–Hertz announced that it will immediately start providing free vehicle rentals to New York City healthcare workers through April 30, 2020.
–Windstar Cruises, which runs small luxury ships, donated 7 pallets (worth about $8,000) of fresh produce and dairy to Feeding South Florida, a Miami-area hunger-relief non-profit in the Feeding America network.
–Columbia Hospitality, which manages The Heathman in Kirkland, Washington, and 25 other hotels in the West, launched a fund to help current, laid-off, and furloughed employees pay for housing, medical expenses, and groceries. Funding came from company executives who took a pay cut.
You Can Explore the World from Your Couch
We’re all stuck at home and social distancing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see the world. Popular attractions across the globe are now making it easier than ever to teleport yourself via virtual reality-powered visits and live cams.
–Google Arts & Culture teamed up with over 2,500 museums and galleries around the world and is offering virtual tours.
–You can’t take a photo of the Sistine Chapel in person—it’s not allowed—but you can tour it virtually. Look up to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece.
–Need a tropical break? Escape to the postcard-perfect landscapes of St. Lucia.
–With the postponement of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics, you can enjoy a VR experience with sushi-making, sumo wrestling and Geisha performances in Japan.
Mother Nature is Getting a Break
With the whole world grounded and people working from home, there are fewer flights, cars on the road and less public transport. With this, it’s no surprise that nature is able to take a break.
–Carbon emissions and air pollution are significantly lower than they were this time last year, particularly in China, Italy and big cities like New York City.
–According to ecologists, Australia’s fire-ravaged forests are slowly recovering, with greenery sprouting from scorched tree trunks.
–After 130 years, the rarest and mostly thought to be extinct dwarf kingfisher was photographed in the Philippines.
–Sites around the world are getting a much-needed breather, from over-trampled forests to coral reefs, giving countries the chance to help safeguard their natural resources.
Popular Tourist Sites are Getting a Makeover
Thanks to the lockdowns and more people staying home, popular travel sites around the world are getting an unexpected makeover. Places that are usually tourist magnets have gotten a rare opportunity to shine.
–Venice is usually teeming with gondolas, but since operations have ceased the murky canals have cleared up, showing off its turquoise hues, plant life and schools of fish. (See it live on Youtube)
–The area surrounding the famous Giza pyramids is currently being disinfected and sterilized, though the monuments themselves are not being touched.
–London’s famous Abbey Road, which has a Grade II-listed status in the UK, got a fresh coat of paint.
–The New York Stock Exchange was fully sanitized for the first time since the iconic neoclassical building opened in 1903.
Planning Future Travel is Not Off Limits
The good news is that being on lockdown doesn’t mean you have to stop your wanderlust wheels from spinning. Chances are that you have more time than usual, so why not use it to update your bucket list or research your next adventure? It may seem a long way off at the moment, but you can still have fun mapping out your itinerary.
Got a serious case of wanderlust? We’ve highlighted how to get ready for your post-coronavirus travel adventures. If you prefer to daydream about travel, check out our top picks for the best travel-related books in 2020 so far.