By Andrea McKinney, MBA, CFP®, Vice President & Wealth Management Advisor

As we turn the page on 2020, the changes and disruptions associated with the pandemic are well known and documented. Stocks associated with the stay-at-home economy thrived while many industries were decimated. The U.S. Travel Association estimated a $1 trillion loss occurred in the travel and tourism industries during the pandemic.

There is a new optimism, however, and the latest Longwoods International tracking study of Americans’ collective sentiment towards travel has shown that roughly 80 percent of travelers have established plans during the next six months. After a year of social isolation, people are ready to expand their horizons and transform their lives through travel.

With vaccinations on the rise, the travel and hospitality industries are now poised to serve pent up demand. However, even in the United States, restrictions differ greatly whether you travel to Alabama, California, or Hawaii. What has the industry accomplished to help clients navigate the future with safety? One initiative is to identify certain global destinations as “safe for travel.”

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recently awarded a Safe Travels stamp to 250 worldwide locations. Destinations with the stamp adopted global protocols designed by the WTTC in coordination with the United Nations World Tourism Organization and over 200 CEOs in the world tourism industry. Through collaborative efforts, the travel industry has created a plan to help recover, restore confidence, and rebuild.

The protocols outline actions that travel industry players should take both behind the scenes (retraining staff, revising cleaning procedures, and working with governments to provide financial relief through the sector) and when welcoming guests (mandating masks where required, monitoring guest numbers to facilitate social distancing, and creating new signage to encourage guests to use safe hygiene practices). Although vaccination rates are improving, there is still concern over new variants. Travelers can take comfort that once a company has implemented the new protocols, it is eligible for the bright green safety stamp, which it can display on its website.

Travel is important to many of our clients and it’s a goal incorporated into many financial plans. If you’re a recent retiree, visiting bucket-list destinations is a dream and a high priority. Moreover, as a consumer, you want to invest your money wisely. The expenses associated with once-in-a-lifetime trips, visits with family, and other shared social experiences are worth it as long as you’re as healthy at the end of your vacation as you were when you boarded the airplane.

The challenges from the pandemic were unprecedented and resulted in the world travel industry’s first-ever global collaborative efforts to protect travelers through health and safety standards. For more information about how you can protect your vacation investment and make the best of memories, speak with your travel agent and visit industry sites such as External Site Arrow and External Site Arrow.