Is it ethical to recommend travel while the world is in the grips of a second COVID-19 wave?

The travel industry hopes two-for-one deals and deep discounts will get you back on the road now. But is it ethical to even recommend travel at a time like this?

We’re deep inside a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prices are low, but the risks are high. And within the travel industry, a debate is raging about what to do.

I had a front-row seat to the conflict when one of my recent columns appeared on a Facebook page for travel agents. You might remember the holiday travel advice story where I suggested readers avoid traveling. 

The agents were so livid about my common-sense advice that they tried to have the person who posted my story fired. 

The controversy opened my eyes to a travel industry fighting for survival and willing to do almost anything to get you traveling again – including possibly exposing you to a deadly virus. As it turns out, both sides of this debate make valid points. But you have to decide who’s right.

The case for recommending travel

For some people, the pandemic is yesterday’s news, and it’s time to get back out there. Travelers already know about the dangers. The greater tragedy would be not traveling.

“Yes, it is ethical to promote travel,” says Katy Kassian, a business consultant and frequent traveler from Regan, North Dakota. “Without people like us traveling, there is no industry. There are no more roadside attractions. The diners will shutter, train and bus routes will be dramatically altered and ultimately, we will become even more disconnected from ourselves, our friends and family and all the fabulous places in our country.”

A complete travel ban doesn’t make sense, say travel professionals. Sangeeta Sadarangani, CEO of Crossing, a multinational travel agency headquartered in London, says some travel is safe.

“There are hotels that are safe and places that are safe for travel right now,” she says. She’s comfortable recommending travel to her clients, as long as they follow all the COVID-19 procedures – including wearing a mask, sanitizing and practicing social distancing. Sadarangani says it all comes down to trust – knowing your travel advisor is looking out for your best interests. 

But for her, “profit or transactions are not the motive.” 

The case against recommending travel

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