Public Session 2

A World without Travel: The Impact of Pandemic-Related Technological Adaptations on the Future of Industry

For years, we have heard about the need to fly less as part of the effort to lessen our environmental impact. Today, we are imagining a world where significantly reduced travel may come to be a permanent fixture. Airlines forced to cease operations as Covid-19 spread across the world have been slow to resume their pre-pandemic schedule, deeply impacting many sectors and forcing industries to adapt. While millions of jobs have been lost across the world, there has been a renaissance of sorts in the digital world as sectors ranging from arts and culture to finance and retail have rushed to shift their business online.

Deals that previously would have been struck over a business trips from New York to London or Istanbul to Doha are now being made online. The retail business, deeply impacted by lockdowns has rapidly increased its digital offering, as demonstrated by the almost unbelievable profits turned by Amazon in the course of the last six months. Museums, symphony orchestras and other cultural products have moved quickly to offer consumers a engaging and perhaps even an enhanced experience as compared to in-person attendance. Almost no sector has been unaffected by massive and sudden disruptions to international travel. This session will discuss the impact of this disruption on a variety of sectors, with a particular focus on how technology has been deployed to make up for the lack of people to people contact, whether it has been effective, and how it might change the nature of how humanity conducts its affairs in the future.

Discussion Themes

This session intends to discuss the following:

• What sectors have been most severely impacted by lack of international travel and which industries were better prepared to handle the newly unfolding dynamic?

• How have different sectors adopted existing technology to serve their needs?

• How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted the speed and direction of technological innovation?

• How will the increased digitization witnessed in the course of the pandemic impact the way business is done – from the tourism sector to international trade – after the pandemic ends?

• What are the possible long-term impacts of the increased dependence on digital communications platforms? Is business travel a thing of the past?

• Are we likely to see a rise of localization, particularly as it relates consumption and production patterns?

• Beyond dollars and cents, what are the potential consequences on the way humanity connects and conducts its affairs?