[13 Mar 2020 edit] When I saw New Zealand’s announcement I decided to move fast. Now enroute to Dubai.
After a lot of consideration about Coronavirus and the travel restrictions now being placed on travellers, I’ve decided to accelerate my plans to travel to New Zealand. I don’t take this decision lightly, there’s a lot to consider.
Why move on?
Five days after I arrived in Goa, India shut down the ability for any foreigner to get a visa, going as far as to even cancel pre-approved visas of anyone who didn’t arrive here before today – 13th March 2020.
This has had a catastrophic impact on tourist industry especially in places such as Goa who rely on a the tail end of peak season leading up to the monsoons in late April. Even the fabulous yoga retreat in Palolem that I’m staying saw 80% of its future reservations cancelled, forcing them to close earlier than expected. A nearby yoga teacher training centre in Agonda now offers 60% off to anyone who will join it’s next training course, hoping to grab some of the yogis who remain. This is a cataclysmic reduction of revenue to the region.
Sounds like a good time to be in India… no?
Well yes… and no. I’ve considered staying here as I’m one of the few that has the time, flexibility and – most importantly – visa to adjust plans and go explore India. I’m sure the Taj Mahal and other top tourist destinations will be far emptier than ever before and I could snap up tours at a discount. There’s definitely appeal in taking this time to knock off some bucket list items.
However… that would be opportunistic and short sighted. I didn’t come here to be a deal grabbing tourist and I didn’t even come to see the sites. I came to get out of Dubai, do some self reflection and work on my yoga practice.
The tsunami approaching India
I don’t think everyone here realizes it but I believe the Coronavirus will hit India in a massive way despite the commendable efforts made here by the government to flatten the curve. By doing all they can ahead of the storm they’re increasing the odds they can drag out the local epidemic and ultimately save lives. Regardless, I believe it will eventually spread around India quickly and that the health systems here will struggle to keep up. Also, more as a side note, when the numbers swell the government will be forced to cancel all public gatherings and start to close some of those same sites I would want to visit, neutralizing any reason to stay.
In the end I’m forced to ask myself, do I want to be here when that storm hits? I’m definitely young, fit and healthy enough to weather it and the risk to my age group is small but by staying I will restrict my future movement and that is my biggest concern. My real destination has been New Zealand for some time and the window to travel there will be closing fast.
So on to New Zealand. My preferred carrier is Emirates, especially after looking at the work they’re doing to keep aircraft clean. That means I’ll need to go Goa > Mumbai > Dubai > Auckland and sounds like I’ll be back in Dubai much earlier than expected.