Opinion by Chaitanya Puri, independent life coach, lawyer and neuro linguistic programming practitioner

Oh 2020! As if the jokes, memes, serious pieces, fleeting opinions and drawing room conversations weren’t enough. So, I’ll try to share my observation on what 2020 meant for many and what we may learn from it. Why you ask? Well, I’m a life coach and thinking about actionable learnings and using them as strategies to grow is basically what I do for a living. But even if I was still practicing law, as I did before I wore my coaching hat, the year 2020 would have still made me pause and take stock of the myriad of lessons it has bestowed upon us.

The worst fears of modern-day humans are centred around uncertainty and instability. And the virus brought both in massive amounts. So now, on one hand we had a situation where people were unsure of the hows, whens and whats of not only their careers but also their industries; whereas on the other hand, the industries’ top priority became survival (much like the virus itself). Then there’s also the catch-22 that for the industries to survive, the people constituting them had to brave the storm and sail through, despite having to see fellow sailors been thrown overboard on account of unprecedented times.

It was clear by March 2020 (at least in India) that this new virus was seeming relentless in spreading its influence across the globe. Every single industry felt the serious impact of the substantial standstill. But, one industry in particular faced a striking blow — the travel and tourism industry.

The travel and tourism industry constitutes of services such as transportation, accommodation, F&B, entertainment and many other connected sub- industries such as travel journalism, accommodation and facility reviewers. The survival of all such services relies on one thing — movement of people from one location to another. And that was exactly what the virus brought to a halt. My experience with my clients, also reinforced my learnings about transformations — a holistic approach to create a platform builds the strongest foundations for long lasting transformations. We saw people from the travel and tourism industry rise to the challenge and embrace uncertainties, to create a solid system of assurance and safety for ensuring that the aspiring traveller gets to put down the massive emotional weight of the microscopic virus to start feeling comfortable in seeing themselves take selfies once again, albeit with masks on.

With the year 2021 having greeted us, not much changes in the tides and the lunar activity, but still the resilience of the human mind feels more concrete as if to intuitively say that there is a better tomorrow than yesterday. We move into the ever-shifting dates on the calendar, with the hope that the virus can be finally put to rest. This is a time where we must pause and applaud people from many industries who went above and beyond their call of duty. This “observation” is my humble acknowledgement to the travel and tourism industry for displaying the truest essence of the term service industry to rise to a challenge that had the capacity to erode the very existence of it.

As I curiously travelled to Maldives with a glimmer of hope that the worst was behind us, I came back to India assured of what seemed to be an almost certain win for the travel industry. I celebrate the fact that proper hygiene, safety, caution and respect for space are now added benefits/lessons in the already robust repertoire of the travel and tourism industry, as we move closer, one day at a time, to be able to take our ever important selfies without protective masks. So, to answer the question “are we there yet?– almost, almost my fellow traveller.