Stoke Travel & The Coronavirus
Sure, we’re worried about coronavirus. We’re in the travel business, and for the most part people travelling is what’s spreading this horrible little flu and nudging the world towards a pandemic. And this affects us, because while we don’t have events in any of the heavily affected regions, when the shit hits the fan like this (and the media go ham on the subject) people panic, their plans can change, and otherwise intrepid individuals might find themselves feeling less confident about moving around the world, seeing the sights, meeting new people, kissing strangers, drinking beer by the litre, enjoying themselves, living, loving and/or learning.
At the time of writing the COVID-19 coronavirus was filling its passport with cough-shaped stamps and was making its way around the world, including through Europe and, because we’re Europe’s number one party and festival travel operator, we’re noticing that some travellers are reconsidering their plans to party with us. And you know what? We think that you should reconsider reconsidering.
Epidemics aren’t new. We started this company just as SARS was petering off, and operated without incident during MERS and swine flu. What is different this time around is the rate by which coronavirus is spreading, and the media saturation that the crisis is causing. It seems like every time we refresh our browsers there’s another outbreak and it seems inevitable that this spiky little ball of bullshit will bear down on us.
People are being led into a panic, and many expats and travellers and study abroad students in Europe are planning to expatriate themselves to bunker down at home. Rice and hand sanitiser and condoms (to tolerate quarantine, or to use when touching public surfaces like elevator buttons) are impossible to find in supermarkets in areas barely affected by the virus, if at all. The more conspiracy minded amongst us are bracing for the apocalypse in our lead-lined panic rooms, while hypochondriacs avoid all human contact for fear of death and fear that every cough and sneeze is a harbinger of their imminent demise. The rest of us are more worried about running out of Netflix shows to watch if we’re forced into a two week quarantine, while conjuring up plans for Tinder-like applications for infected-only people to use.
COUGHTER: Because you can’t catch it twice.
As a tour operator and travel agent, for Stoke Travel it’s business as usual. We rely on advice from experts and health professionals and government agencies at a local and international level. Based on their recommendations at writing none of our upcoming events, tours or trips will need to cancelled, or even modified, nor does it look likely that they will be.
As far as the Stoke Travel calendar is concerned, our upcoming trips to Munich’s Springfest, Ibiza Spring Break, Andorra Ski, and the various Barcelona Boat Parties are all going ahead, and will be until local or national government advice recommends the contrary.
At the time of writing this, the coronavirus has affected very few people in Munich, and 0.0019% of Germans across the country, and while that number is expected to go up, authorities are making drastic efforts to contain the virus’ spread and we will comply with those if we need to. In Ibiza there are no confirmed cases, and in Barcelona few at the time of writing, and in Spain 0.0036% of the population have been infected. Our summer and spring events in Spain are currently unaffected, but again we will follow government advice for the wellbeing of our travellers, employees and the greater community. We don’t want to be cavalier, but we also don’t want to panic.
The summer events of Oktoberfest, San Sebastian Surf Camp, and all of our Spanish festivals are going ahead bigger and better than ever. We’ve got a hunch that this coronavirus, unlike the beer it wasn’t (but should have been) named after, doesn’t go well with hot weather, sunshine, beaches and lime. By the time Euro summer 2020 rolls around the days will be long and hot, coughs scarce, coronavirus just a memory – and because the scared, the weird and the elderly aren’t booking travel all the best festivals and destinations will be filled with locals, young people, the adventurous and the foolhardy. Our kind of people.
Furthermore, the vast majority of Stoke Travel guests are well outside of the danger zone for this particular influenza strain, with people between 18-40 years of age having a 0.2% chance of dying in the off chance they contract coronavirus, as opposed to a 15% chance for people over 80. At the time of writing, in Italy, all fatalities from the coronavirus were over 60 years old and had underlying health issues. While we do advise being prudent with your virus prevention so that we can better safeguard more “at risk” members of our community, at this stage we don’t see this being a great threat to the average Stoke traveller.
The coronavirus concerns us, but we most certainly aren’t freaking out. In the off chance that it comes for us, it’s most likely not going to be much worse than a hangover. Which, while annoying, is something that we’re pretty used to overcoming.
Coronavirus is popping up in new countries and regions every day. It can find you wherever you are, and as the disease moves around the world being at home will be just as risky as travelling. We don’t see the point in denying ourselves the endless delights of pursuing pleasure around the world and living a travelling life full of new experiences as long as the coronavirus doesn’t present a real and tangible threat to our wellbeing.
Stoke Travel operated without incident through the H1N1 epidemic (swine flu), and in the wake of other events that created concern among travellers, such as terrorist attacks in Germany, France and here in our home in Barcelona. We always weigh up the risks, but do so knowing that we can’t let unrealistic fears and media panics negatively affect our overwhelming need to have a good time. All the time.
This coronavirus will pass, so we strongly advise that you continue living your life as you were before you even heard of the coronavirus, but always be prudent with the advice of local governments and international authorities on health, like the World Health Organisation. We will not be cancelling our events unless we’re advised to do so, and our terms and conditions regarding cancellations and refunds will remain as is throughout this developing situation.
Stay safe, but don’t do so at the expense of living your best travelling lives. Wash your hands, cough into your elbow, don’t kiss older folks with high fevers, and keep travelling the world, going out at night, partying, attending concerts and enjoying yourself. As warmer weather approaches and governments and health professionals work to contain the outbreak, soon the coronavirus will be relegated to history and we’ll wonder why we were so worried at all.