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Japanese Mask Culture: How it can help travel industry

COVID-19 has affected all the business sectors but the one that is affected the most is the travel industry. Every other week, we hear airlines filing for bankruptcy. Revenues for most airlines have declined to nil during the lockdown. With almost no revenues, airline companies are unable to manage their finances. Similar disruptions are happening to other industries as global supply-chains are disrupted.

Let me tell you a story. In 1918, the world saw a pandemic similar to COVID-19 and it was the deadliest virus in history. It infected close to 500 million people worldwide. The death count was 20-50 million which included 675,000 Americans. It originated in Europe, the US, and some parts of Asia and spread all over the world. Citizens were ordered to wear masks; schools, theaters, and businesses were shut and bodies piled up in makeshift morgues before the virus ended its deadly global march.

Japan / Hong Kong and Masks

Japan was not spared by the 1918 pandemic either but something changed. People started using masks for the everyday commute. This is why the Japanese wear a surgical mask every day. More people started using the mask when the swine-flu hit Japan in 2009. This could be the reason why Japan wasn’t much affected by COVID-19 unlike America and Europe.

Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated places with 7.5 million people, recorded only 6 casualties from Covid-19. And this too without any lockdowns and inflow of 3 million travelers with around half of them from China.

Prof. Yuen said this success is a result of a mask compliance rate of 97%! Source – WSJ

Social-distancing in Japan.

Have you ever wondered why Japanese don’t shake hands or cheek kiss (a common way of greeting someone in Europe)? The reason behind bending and greeting people with some distance is a common way of practicing ‘Social-distancing’ — an important measure to break the virus-spread chain. As the Japanese saw many pandemics/epidemics before, they adapted their style of greeting someone.

Mask Culture can be a game-changer for the travel industry.
It is important for us to learn from Japanese people and consistently use masks everywhere. It must be made mandatory for airline and travel companies. This way, we can make our travel way safer.

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