Just for the alliterating numbers one would like to embrace this year. We were already eagerly awaiting this calendar year in 2019, as 2020 was supposed to be a festive year for us: the 20th anniversary of our PR agency. What should have been a cheerful year with likewise turnover for us, is now fast becoming the annus horribilis of the past 2 decades. Thanks to a tiny shitty son of a bitch, so small that we can’t even see it with the naked eye. Only under the microscope does it show its true shape and how, the coronavirus looks a kind of miniature golf ball with dozens of tentacles like suction cups that want to cling to you. It feels like the world is in some kind of straitjacket right now, chained as we are to our homes. One of our most basic fundamental rights – the freedom to move around – has been severely curtailed worldwide. Economies are paralyzed, thousands of people are dying, uncertainty and fear are rampant, hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk, and above all the very frustrating feeling of powerlessness. The “me me me, I don’t care about the others” attitude of some of my fellow countrymen manifested itself in the most gloomy form imaginable: hoarding toilet! Perhaps ‘anus horribilis’ is a more appropriate name for these poor souls.
Is there really nothing positive to report about the coronavirus? Certainly. For example, the air quality, for example above China, seems to have improved by leaps and bounds. Traffic jams are a thing of the past, some industries are celebrating their heyday, online orders are quadrupling, we see splendid humor and the most funny jokes passing by, working from home is becoming more popular, we are reading more, I hear more birds chirping in my garden, we think more outside the box, and come up with inventive solutions. Another nice side effect: burglars are annoyed by this virus, everyone is at home. And in various industries – including the industry you and I work in – one is seeing enormous efforts to repatriate fellow nationals from all over the world back to their home country. And of course the deepest deepest respect for all those who work 24 hours a day in the health and care sector.
Whilst most media write about the negative impacts of this pandemic, the enormous solidarity in our society is getting less coverage: that’s just how news works. There are hundreds of touching relief actions, especially at street and neighborhood level. It is a positive side effect of crises: they connect
Fortunately, the number of Wrath of God, Apocalypse and Armageddon articles and predictions – from what I can judge – has been limited, but it goes without saying that a seed of fear has been planted in our brain – which is very good news. People are starting to realize that this mind-boggling episode in our history must have implications for how the world is run. Will the way we think and act get a reset mode when this crisis is behind us? Should limits be imposed on our more more more consumption drive, more more more travel drive, higher higher higher growth drive? Time will tell.
Light at the end of the tunnel
As I type this piece, I look out on our office garden. The trees and plants are about to burst into bloom. Nature is not at all bothered by the virus. So, are we humans perhaps not as smart as we ourselves say we are? If we do not see any change in our actions after this disaster, then we are indeed the stupidest creatures on earth. When this horror movie ends, we are going to see a turnaround in holiday behavior and a shift in destinations, in other words more holidays in our own country and neighboring countries, an increase in the number of car and motoring holidays at the expense of flight holidays, more cocoon holidays in bungalows, cottages and campers at the expense of large hotels. And intercontinental trips to China will see a huge downturn for quite some time. So many national, regional and city tourist boards, hotel chains, and other tourism organizations will possibly shift (some of) their China and/or long-haul PR and marketing budgets back to European markets. And for once most will again realize the potential of Benelux market, a very stable consumer market of some 28 million people who just adore holidays.
Do I see light at the end of the tunnel? All is well that ends well.