Up the Creek but not without a paddle

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Now you’re telling me
You’re not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You who are so good with words

– Diamonds and Rust, Joan Baez

And so, just like that, we have slipped into a New Year. An early morning ferry ploughs an aquatic furrow through the otherwise placid waters of Discovery Bay, while in the distance a plane soars high into the clouds above the hills beyond Hong Kong International Airport. 2022 here we go.

To confirm the fact, my desk calendar from Airport Authority Hong Kong General Manager Alby Tsang (entitled ‘What type of passenger are you?’) is now open at January, replete with a lovely image of a corgi (‘The Rusher’) dashing along an airport travelator.

I doubt I will be doing much of that for a while, especially amid news that the Omicron variant has found its way into the Hong Kong community after four Cathay Pacific crew breached the airline’s internal post-return COVID-19 home isolation control measures and went about freely in the community. As a direct result of one being infected with Omicron from the US, the variant is on the loose, Hong Kong is on red alert and crew working on non-Mainland China passenger flights have lost all quarantine-related exemptions. All down to a combination of abject selfishness and gross stupidity. Just as we were nearing a likely opening of the Mainland/Hong Kong border. Sigh.

When I was a (very) little boy in Christchurch, New Zealand, my father, a cinema manager used to dress me and my siblings in sailor suits. I hated it but the attire proved perfect when a movie called Up the Creek came to town. It told the tale of a hapless, accident-prone naval officer who is posted to somewhere where he can (theoretically) cause no damage – a mothballed ship called HMS Berkeley moored at a wharf on England’s Suffolk coast.

My Dad, a dab hand at promotional campaigns, decided to create a mock HMS Berkeley to be towed along during the annual local street parade that was a feature of New Zealand life back in the late 1950s and early 60s. Guess who was cast as Captain? Yep. I must have been all of four years old. Man the laugh boats as the movie’s tagline ran.

Up the Creek. Feels like a pretty good description of the state of our world as we enter year three of the great 21st century pandemic, doesn’t it?

In fact, alongside my old Up the Creek photo, I’m looking at an equally appropriate image, one from a get well card I received at the start of my battle against cancer back in 2010. It’s also got a nautical theme and comes complete with an apposite expletive, one that probably sums up how many business owners in the travel sector are feeling right now as Omicron rages across the world.

However, I don’t think we’re quite as Up the Creek as it might appear. By and large this will be the year that the world broadly accepts it must live with COVID as well as jointly defending against it and treating it. Encouragingly, the first mainstream media headline I read in 2022 (on BBC.com) proclaimed, ‘Covid-19: WHO chief optimistic disease will be beaten in 2022.’

It details a New Year’s Eve statement by World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in which he expresses optimism that the pandemic will be defeated in 2022, provided the shameful issue of vaccine inequity across countries is addressed.

“Narrow nationalism and vaccine hoarding by some countries have undermined equity and created the ideal conditions for the emergence of the Omicron variant, and the longer inequity continues, the higher the risks of the virus evolving in ways we can’t prevent or predict,” he said.

“If we end inequity, we end the pandemic,” he concluded.

The Moodie Davitt Report is championing the newly created Global Travel Sector Vaccine Coalition, which calls on stakeholders in the wider travel ecosystem to use their collective reach to play a part in ensuring everyone, no matter where they are in the world, has access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, as Captain of the good ship Moodie Davitt, I’ll continue trying to guide her through these stormy waters and some day soon, I hope, into a safe harbour. I admit there are many times over the past two years that I have feared for the safety of my ship, though I have never felt like abandoning it or mothballing it. This year, very much intact, the vessel turns 20, a landmark I would have gladly accepted when I launched her in 2002. Our celebrations will be perhaps more muted than planned but we will celebrate nonetheless. Let 2022, the Year of the Tiger, roar.

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