If you subscribe to the old adage that it is all about the journey, not the destination, then your tourist trend has arrived. Say hello to the “trip to nowhere.” In short, you get on a vehicle, travel a nonstop scenic route and arrive right back where you started. Perfect for shaking up your routine during this era of social distancing due to coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19, even more so if you tie it to particular interests.
Thai Airways plans to take advantage of this fad with a religious twist. On November 30 the airline will launch a “flight to nowhere” throughout Thailand for its Buddhist residents. The flight will take off from Bangkok and soar for three hours over 99 of the top Buddhist religious sites in the country, such as Sukhothai, Wat Arun, Ayutthayael and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Passengers will get the chance to pray or meditate over each one without setting foot inside, assisted by renowned local spiritualist, Khata Chinbunchon.
The Return of the Trip to Nowhere
This “trip to nowhere” concept is hardly new. Tour providers for decades have offered “flights to nowhere” by plane or helicopter. These offer panoramic views of well-known urban centers or natural wonders such as Colorado’s Grand Canyon in the United States. Also, nearly every great capital city in the world, such as Paris, France, has a “city tour” on water or land that takes you around town without stopping until you get back to your point of origin.
The resurgence of interest in these aimless trips comes from the need to revive the global tourism industry. Limitations brought by the COVID-19 pandemic inspire this and other creative forms of tourism. Qantas airline, for example, announced a scenic “flight to nowhere” called the “Great Southern Land.” That seven-hour flight took place on October 10. It flew over iconic South Australian locations like the Great Barrier Reef, as well as the iconic Sydney Harbor with its Bridge and Opera House. Quantas sold out every seat on that flight in just under 10 minutes.
Tours to Nowhere: Travel Aimlessly by Land, Sea and Air
In the case of Thai Airways, their Buddhist “flight to nowhere” is part of the “Magical Flying Experience” campaign. This promotion, a joint effort together with the country’s government, aims to jumpstart domestic tourism. It should also give the struggling airline a boost after filing for bankruptcy due to the global decrease in commercial flights.
The Singaporean government, for its part, intends to revitalize its tourism through “cruises to nowhere”. Both Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean companies are expected to resume operations in the country this November. Their World Dream and Quantum of the Seas cruises, respectively, will include all the amenities and attractions of a cruise ship. They just won’t get to dock anywhere.
These options should serve anyone interested as a healthy alternative to staying home. Check with your local tour provider about what “trip to nowhere” options are available in your region, or plan your own local road trip. Fresh air will do you good, just don’t forget your face mask.