Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
- Splendid isolation in Bangkok - December 5, 2022
- Why the Wai beats the handshake every time in the COVID era - December 1, 2022
- Discovering the lure of luxury at Hong Kong Airport and with Le Clos at DXB - November 25, 2022
From a distance the world looks blue and green
And the snow-capped mountains white
From a distance the ocean meets the stream
And the eagle takes to flight
From a distance there is harmony
And it echoes through the land
– From a Distance, Nancy Griffith
It’s a strange experience waking up in the morning to read my colleagues’ coverage of a physical trade show taking place some 14,350km away on another continent. A trade show that until its COVID-related suspension in 2020 I had only missed attending once in the previous 25 years.
In fact, this week’s Summit of the Americas run by the IAADFS in West Palm Beach, Florida marks the third successive trade show that travel constraints in Hong Kong have prevented me from attending. TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes and the Middle East Duty Free Association (MEADFA) in Dubai being the previous two.
Such is the way of the world at present. The need to hotel quarantine for seven days post-arrival in Hong Kong, albeit much better than the recently scrapped 21-day requirement, makes international travel both complex and expensive. Rather than dart in and out of Hong Kong as I would have previously, I need to plan a multiple-destination work (and personal) journey that hopefully necessitates just one week of hotel quarantine back here. Everyone I know here in the travel retail community is grappling with the same dilemma.
It almost feels like déjà vu looking at my colleagues’ daily update from Florida with the usual show diet of exhibitor photos, workshop speeches and social gatherings. Almost. Some of the exhibitors are wearing masks, something we would have considered weird at the equivalent show in 2019.
To my Asia-influenced perspective, it actually seems weird, perhaps disconcerting is a better word, to see so many people not wearing masks. Different areas of the world are moving at very different paces with regard to the ultimate global state of ‘living with COVID’ that will inevitably play out.
Battle-hardened by the SARS experience of 2002 and 2003, expect many Asian nationalities to be a whole lot more conservative about personal safety than most western counterparts. While the highly infectious Omicron variant seems much milder in its effects than predecessors such as Delta, let’s not forget that COVID still caused 2,129 deaths yesterday (Source: Worldometer) bringing the total to 6,206,027 and that an estimated 45,000 people are fighting for their lives worldwide as I write.
COVID is still something you don’t want to catch. I have a good Korean friend, only in her 40s, who caught it last week in Seoul and is worryingly unwell.
I suspect therefore that as Asian nationalities begin to travel internationally again, including in time the Chinese, a kind of perceived ‘COVID-safety’ status will a key influence of destination choice for many. I will be among them.