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You’re staring at a screen now, but you’d probably prefer to be cliff jumping in Bora Bora or people watching from a cafe in Paris. Just imagine! “Je voudrais un café au lait," you could be telling a Parisian barista.
But alas, we’re in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of what level of concern (or apathy) you have for personal and public health, regulations might not even allow you to travel to where you want to go.
As of this publication, Kayak reports that 80 countries are “completely closed." Meaning only people with exceptional circumstances may enter those countries. Also, currently 86 countries are “partially open," and 47 have no formal restrictions.
Due to these unique regulations and our hesitancy to contribute to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, it will be interesting to see how the tourism industry will begin to recover. It is critical that recovery occurs for the travel industry as it is a financial lifeline for millions across the world. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that 330 million jobs worldwide are tied to tourism.
Here’s what experts expect some travel trends will look like in the coming months.
International travel will be greatly reduced
If you care about the airline industry’s wellness and hold hopes that international travel will return to pre-pandemic levels in the next few months, you should brace yourself for some bad news.
Unfortunately, on July 28, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released a press report that provides perspective. The IATA predicts that the number of passengers flying globally won’t return to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2024. This forecast is due to a number of reasons, including rising unemployment rates, reduced business travel and the ineffective virus containment in relevant global air travel markets – like the US.
There will be an increase in domestic travel
On a positive note – because not everything is all doom and gloom – the option of staycations, where individuals vacation within their local area, offers a glimmer of hope for both the travel industry and gallivanters alike.
Bloomberg reports that more people are attracted to local travel options in the climate of this pandemic. Additionally, our continued appetite for travel is observable when you take a look at Airbnb’s bookings from May 17 to June 3, which were higher in the US this year than the same dates last year.
Dan Yates, the founder of Pitchup (a campsite booking website) told Forbes, in his prediction about the coming future of travel, that there will probably be a continued increase in domestic travel as the pandemic begins to pass.
“Staycations are likely to be top of mind, and we predict these will be booked at the last minute,” Yates said. “Limited time to plan and a desire to ‘test the water’ may mean a succession of short trips instead of an immediate long vacation. We also anticipate an increased interest in low-cost travel given the economic impact COVID-19 has inflicted on so many.”
Road trips will become more popular
At least in the US, road trips have taken center stage as an option for people who have decided to travel. The American Hotel and Lodging Association surveyed Americans in late June about their travel plans. Of those respondents who were planning to vacation this summer, 72% answered that they expected to have an overnight vacation via their car, and 40% expected to drive more than four hours during that experience.
Logically, people want to engage more in road trips while the pandemic is still a concern, as they offer a more contained and economical experience than traveling by plane. Nick Hentschel, the chief operating officer of AmericanTours International, agrees that road trips will likely gain popularity as an inadvertent impact of this pandemic, stating that “travelers will lean toward [driving] holidays and discovering wide-open spaces.”
As regulations and restrictions are being constantly updated, only time will tell how soon the travel industry could make a comeback and what trends we can expect in the coming months.
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