Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, social media influencers who continue to travel the globe have received great criticism — not only for breaking pandemic guidelines but for putting the lives of others at risk.
The importance of accountability
Influencers who show they do not follow safety protocols and are putting others in danger should be called out and maybe even cancelled. Every influencer knows they have an audience who follows their lead. If an influencer continues to travel even during a pandemic, showing their followers everything is safe, then their followers may start travelling as well.
Some might argue the only job for travel influencers is travelling, and now with the pandemic they are just trying to pay their bills by continuing to travel for money. But they aren’t the only workers who are in a difficult situation. According to a recent study by the United Nations International Labour Organization, 225 million jobs were lost worldwide in 2020. Everyone is sacrificing in their own way because of the pandemic. So, why should travel influencers be treated any different? These influencers aren’t just spreading the virus within their own city. They are spreading it around the world in different countries.
Travel shaming and cancelling influencers for travelling isn’t necessarily stopping influencers from travelling. We still see many influencers posting pictures on social media about their trips and their travel experiences. Others continue to travel, but focus on domestic trips.
Travelling internationally is the real problem. If an influencer gets the virus and travels from one country to another, then they are putting all the airport workers, flight attendants, hotel staff and every other person they come in contact with during the trip at risk.
Travelling to the global south
Some argue vaccinated influencers can travel without causing harm. However, this may not be accurate. Countries influencers travel to for vacation are mostly located in the global south, which include nations such as Bora Bora, the Maldives, Bahamas, Barbados and many more. In an Al Jazeera article political ecology researcher Vijay Kolinjivadi said, these countries face what he calls the “vaccine apartheid.” This means countries in the global south will not be receiving the vaccine as early as developed countries, resulting in their citizens being vaccinated later than others.
In his article, Kolinjivadi also explains being vaccinated does not mean the virus will not be spread anymore. A vaccinated individual can carry the virus and transmit it to individuals who have not been vaccinated. So, even if influencers and travel bloggers are vaccinated before travelling to prevent getting sick, they are still putting others at risk. The people encountering influencers can get sick and then transmit the virus to their communities.
Governments sometimes pay influencers and bloggers to travel to their countries to encourage tourism. However, during the pandemic there are millions of people struggling after losing their jobs. There should be more funds to help people who lost their jobs instead of promoting travel despite all the health risks. It’s just not fair for influencers and bloggers to get paid to travel on vacation during the pandemic, disrupting efforts made by essential workers to curb the virus and distribute vaccines safely. The rest of the world should not be put in danger while influencers risk public health.