The pandemic has changed many aspects of travel from accessibility and open borders to airfares, flight routes, and destinations that will be available in 2021. But what about hospitality? In March and April, as Corona hit the entire world, fellow travers stuck in places like Africa or South America reported feeling made unwelcome; in Colombia, Argentina, Ethiopia, and Senegal, locals would sometimes stare at foreigners shouting “Corona, corona”. This seems to have disappeared or at least subsided, but can we expect the same level of pre-Corona hospitality in 2021 when we start traveling again?
I’m hoping the answer is yes. Recently, taking an elevator to my hotel room in Cuenca, Ecuador, I told the receptionist I was feeling sick. The second I said it, I regretted it: I was feeling ill because of a bad case of food poisoning I got the previous day, but the moment I told the hotelier I was sick, I feared he’d assume it’s COVID and turn me away, or at the very least, insist on a temperature scan (a fairly popular measure in Ecuador). The pandemic has made us all fearful, and I admit, for a split second, I feared I shouldn’t have told the receptionist about my illness. Luckily, I was wrong: the man kindly asked what was wrong, then offered to send up some oregano and ginger tea to my room – no fuss, no muss. My fear was baseless and having recovered from the stomach bug, I carried on riding Ecuador for another week enjoying warm hospitality from the Andes to the Amazon basin.
It seems that here, much like in Eastern and Central Europe which I crossed this summer, hospitality is back to pre-pandemic levels, and hopefully, that will be the case all over the world in 2021. What’s your take? And would you welcome travellers in your own country?