It can't have escaped anyone's notice that the election happened in the USA last week, did anyone else think that Nevada was using an abacus to count their votes? Seriously though, regardless of your politics I want to reflect on what I hope the new regime under Joe Biden will be and why it will have a positive impact on the Travel Industry.
In his speech after winning the vote on Saturday 7th November, Biden said he would be putting together a team to combat the pandemic saying that until they have it under control the economy cannot prosper.
Biden is expected to announce the names of people who will serve on his coronavirus task force very quickly. In conjunction and working together with the previous regime Biden says that from day 1 of taking office they will step up their efforts regardless of the vaccine situation (which could be legal in a month).
It's also understood that the new administration will immediately rejoin the World Health Organisation (WHO). This is a big step forward and was one of my biggest issues with the Trump administration. They were looking inward when they should've been seeking a global solution and at the time of writing nearly a quarter of a million Americans are dead in part because of that decision.
For example Trump blamed China for the pandemic. It started there, true, but a coordinated diplomatic effort could've meant it ended there like many other pandemics before this one.
For instance, had the USA praised China and helped persuade them to close borders in December 19/January 2020, in order to support the WHO efforts to deal with the pandemic at the source of origin, get vital information out to the travel industry and the world at large, we may not have seen the pandemic travel beyond China.
That's what diplomats are supposed to do not ridicule and demean a nation and its culture. Trump however had already been pissing off the Chinese for most of his term with his trade wars and had no part in any of the discussions with the WHO about the potential for a pandemic. He simply didn't see it coming or believe it could happen. Previous administrations did and that's why they worked with the WHO.
The coordination efforts of the WHO have been primarily driven by the worlds strongest nations including the USA, but they haven't been at the table for the past year and the result has been a disaster for the world at large.
So tackling the pandemic is one reason to be positive about this change in leadership. Solving the pandemic is the only way travel resumes at any level.
Then there is the elephant in the room, the environment.
The pandemic could look like a a walk in park compared to global temperatures soaring out of control. Think mass migrations, poverty, violence, more scarce resources as forests turn into desserts leading to war over resources. That's not my un-informed opinion that's what science is telling us we're moving toward unless we remove 40 Gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The Paris treaty was one globally accepted commitment from most countries on reducing carbon emissions.
Trump was concerned that the Paris treaty was unfair to the USA. So he withdrew the US membership from it saying it would cost the USA $3 trillion and 6.5M jobs. Given those numbers you could argue it's a fair point. However climate related costs such as hurricanes, fires, unseasonable weather in the past 35 years have already cost the USA $1.75 Trillion. That's a sunk cost.
These disasters are increasing in frequency globally but in the last 5 years the USA has seen 69 environmental disasters that cost more than $1bn. Things like the recent Californian fires that wiped out 5 million hectares of land.
So its short term thinking to save money now in the hope that the problem goes away and in another 10 years it could cost 1 trillion more anyway. The 3 trillion figure cited by Trump is also widely disputed because of the new jobs these new initiatives would create. The Paris treaty could improve the economy with new sustainable approaches to all forms of energy and industry, Travel included.
Joe Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris treaty but not only that, I'd hope that his government would invest in new technologies that potentially could help solve the problem.
It's not about whether the environment is being exploited by the world at large. It is. It's heating up and too much CO2 is the problem. Air travel is only going to get worse when the pandemic is over. Systems and forms of transport need massive investment to make them carbon neutral. I read about a Scottish company that has built electric powered planes. Boeing and others need to be doing the same. Offsetting isn't the answer, though I acknowledge that at least airlines that do that, are trying.
However the biggest opportunity is when travel returns and the taxes start coming in again. If travel industry bodies start lobbying governments on how to spend in partnership with "green key" and similar kinds of companies, the industry can make a huge difference. There is much more chance now that with Biden in charge things can happen that help the world at large.
It's not only about prevention. We have to extract more CO2 from the air and only governments working together can do that. For instance the article I just linked too is a great example of innovation that wasn't supported by the US government, but by crowdfunding, primarily with one of Toristy's financial partners, Stripe. That's a company that could solve the environmental CO2 problem for they estimate around $450bn. A lot cheaper than the 3 trillion cited by Trump and it's a global cost, not a US one.
I believe a Joe Biden led administration will lead to global discussions that enable global investments in things like this to happen.
Climate cancer as I call it is something that's more than just travel related it's our responsibility to do something about, so our kids and grandkids get to enjoy travel not have to emigrate just to stay alive.
I can explain this with a simple example, how Toristy would like to invest in the USA but hasn't to date because of Trump.
The first thing is I would need to trust the people on the ground. That means (for me at least) sending someone over from our current organisation to set-up the US offering. I need to trust that anyone I employ there is treated well by the state they live in and that they can do the work without discrimination. That means getting them a green card, finding a place to live/work etc; all need to be relatively easy. I need to trust that the place they go to isn't going to be bad for their mental well being. Under Trump getting one of my trusted lieutenants into the country was difficult enough, getting a green card nigh on impossible and getting them to agree to move wasn't attractive.
Under Biden, all of that will be easier.
Secondly the pandemic. It would never have gone away in the USA unless a vaccine is found making it unsafe for travel. I believe with Biden in charge the USA could be open within 6 months of the democrats being in power. Education and foreign policy play into this as well. Mask denial would be funny if it weren't so serious, but education can help with that.
Thirdly race riots don't make for good holiday experiences. Biden has committed to a $30bn fund to help end systematic racism and has a vision of a united America.
I'm lets say cautiously optimistic about the future. It feels like there is a light at the end of a long dark tunnel that was 2020. Vaccines may now be around the corner with a professional grown up in charge of the most powerful nation in the world. That power translates to actions that impact everyone. The USA effects and impacts the global economy and its actions have global impacts for good or bad.
For too long the USA has been out of the global discussions and now that they're coming back to the table I hope the world as well as the USA can start healing.