When can I travel again after coronavirus? Experts predict

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When can we travel again?

Maybe a summer road trip. Maybe Europe in the fall. Maybe 2021.

Ask an expert when the Americans are going to start hitting the air again and you will get a range of answers. Optimists lean toward summer. Others think it will take longer.

You also hear a lot of theories about how the recovery will happen – car trips first, flights later – and how this pandemic can change the world of long-term travel – loss of small stores, priority hygiene.

But no one really knows, because the virus is in charge.

Here, as the United States and Europe face some of the darkest days of the pandemic so far, here’s what some industry leaders – and a doctor – say you can expect .

What’s in the cards for the summer?

A more or less normal summer of travel “may be in the cards, and I say this with caution,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on Thursday at “CBS This Morning”.

Fauci said summer activities depend on the continued success of flattening the virus transmission rate – and could change quickly if infections spread.

A recent Harris poll asked Americans how long after the curve was flattened they would go to a hotel: “One-fifth of Americans (21%) say they will stay in a hotel in a month,” the figure jumps to 41% within three months and 60% within six months.

For airlines, the tipping point for most Americans to resume the flight occurs after four to six months. And more than half said they would wait a year or more before going on a cruise, according to the survey.

Roger Dow, general manager of the US Travel Assn., Thinks travel will rebound, but not as quickly and not all at once.

One thing is for sure, said Dow: “Americans will generally stay at home until next year. … Europe is made for American travelers. “

“The most important thing as an industry is that we have to be ready at this time. “

In all cases, it is to prepare, reopen hotels and add flights to a schedule that has seen a drop of almost 60% from January 6 to April 6, according to OAG, which analyzes the data. airlines.

The United States was slightly better than the average; flights fell 45.2% over this period, but Germany, Spain, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom declined 90% or more.

The rebound will not happen as quickly as the collapse, but as it does, according to OAG analysts, the servant will come back first. But don’t pack this bag yet; OAG analysts expect the recovery to begin in two to three months.

Wait until 21? Rick Steves doesn’t want to, but …

Rick Steves, who publishes travel guides, produces PBS travel stories and manages Rick Steves’ European tours from an office in Edmonds, Washington, has canceled all tours with start dates until May 31 . He’s about to cancel more, including the one that has special meaning to him.

To celebrate his daughter’s wedding, Steves organized a 20-day grand tour of Europe that brought together about two dozen family members who took a tourist bus. They were going to start on June 16 in Amsterdam.

“I have yet to cancel this, but I’m about to,” said Steves.

In fact, “I’m psychologically ready not to tour this year,” said Steves. “This is the problem with this crisis: we just don’t know. … I will be grateful for all that we can recover in 2020. ”

When the restrictions were relaxed, he said, “I think the first thing that will come back is the regional trip: going to the city which is three hours away by car. What you don’t want to do is fly somewhere and find yourself in a situation where you’re going to be quarantined. ”

Yosemite National Park is a classic regional travel destination for Californians. This is the swing bridge area near Yosemite Falls in the Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite National Park is a classic regional travel destination for Californians. This is the swing bridge area near Yosemite Falls in the Yosemite Valley.

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

When international travel resumes, “I know we will find an impatient and welcoming Europe,” said Steves, whose business weathered September 11, 2001 and the 2008 recession. “When something stops travel and people start to come back, it’s a great moment for everyone involved. … but I’m not going to jump the gun … I just don’t have the heart for this after what we’ve been through this spring. I will be patient. “

Steves is concerned that many small businesses, particularly restaurants and small museums that operate on a small scale, will never reopen. These mom-and-pop businesses, he said, are one of the most rewarding things about the trip, whether you’re an American abroad or a foreigner in the United States.

Ross Castle, Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland.

Ross Castle, Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland.

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

A trip by car to a small hotel in July?

Alan X. Reay, president of the hotel brokerage firm Irvine Atlas Hospitality, expects the recovery to begin with short summer trips to small hotels.

If progress against the pandemic continues as some have predicted, said Reay, he assumes that leisure travelers will begin adventuring “during the month of July. the [hotel] the properties that recover most quickly are those located in direct access markets. … You are going to have people who are reluctant to travel by plane. “

In southern California, Reay said it would mean trips to Laguna Beach, Santa Barbara, Cambria, Morro Bay, “anything that goes up and down State Route 1 on the coast.”

The hotels that recover the fastest, said Reay, “will be the smallest hotels. Especially in the beach and coastal areas. The ones that will last the longest are the large meeting and resort hotels. … I think that people will avoid these large hotels with 200 to 300 rooms at first. “

If there is no recurrence of the coronavirus in the fall or winter, Reay said he would expect a steady increase in pleasure trips until 2021, as more vacationers and business people will take to the air.

Meanwhile, “I bet these companies that hire campers and sleepers will make a fantastic deal this summer,” said Reay.

Reay expects two lasting changes: hotels will turn to “more robotic types of cleaning”, and travelers “will be very, very aware of their proximity to others.”

If your trip is about family, you could go earlier

Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, Airbnb advisor and founder of the Modern Elder Academy, believes that “there will be an ongoing process for the start of the trip depending on the intention and profile of the traveler. “

“Certain types of experiences – weddings, family reunions, transformational journeys – can go back more quickly because it is the promise of happiness and connection with people you know or know deeply. “

Sometimes, “it takes a crisis for people to recognize that they want to change paths,” he said.

As the recovery progresses, Conley said, many travelers will first move to extended stay hotels with kitchenettes (due to extended family visits or pandemic-related recovery projects). He expects a gradual resurgence of nearby visits to the outskirts of major metropolitan areas, followed by “summer leisure travel in the wild, warrior business travelers, small conferences / meetings, international travel , major conventions, cruises ”. in this order.

Before the Americans hit the road, the Chinese

William Heinecke, president of Minor Corp., which has more than 500 hotels in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and beyond, hopes to reopen some hotels in June. Like others here, he expects domestic travel to resume before international travel.

And he expects the Chinese to start traveling first. “Remember,” he said, “they haven’t traveled since before the Chinese New Year. “

Heinecke, a Thai citizen, is in quarantine in Phuket, which he says is more beautiful than ever – less people, less garbage, more wildlife.

“You have never seen beaches and water regenerate like this. There is no garbage, there are no yachts around. He called it “a reset period for all of our natural beauties here.” “

An ancient travel practice that may come back, suggested Heinecke, is the health card, a record of a traveller’s previous vaccinations. Once upon a time, said Heinecke, “you couldn’t travel without a shooting record. If a COVID-19 vaccine is developed and used worldwide, said Heinecke, we could see a return to this practice of travel.

Is this the year of the car?

Yet travel is in our DNA, Clayton Reid, chief executive of travel industry analyst MMGY Global, wrote in a March 27 report on the future of travel after the crisis.

Reid predicted that the Americans would return to travel on shorter trips closer to home. “Road travel has been on the rise for five consecutive years, and 2020 may well become the year of the car.” These early travelers are likely to head to outdoor destinations, such as campgrounds and mountain resorts.

Sunset Cliffs, Point Loma, San Diego, a California road trip destination.

Sunset Cliffs, Point Loma, San Diego, a California road trip destination.

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Rafting in July?

Karen Johnson, sales manager for Utah-based Holiday River Expeditions, feels the same. Trips at the start of the season have been canceled. She waits until the end of June and the beginning of July to resume rafting trips for her company, in particular on the Colorado and Green rivers in Utah, which are good rivers for the end of season races.

“In particular, people who are within walking distance are still looking for ways to go on an adventure,” she said in an email. “A common theme that I hear from people is that their other projects, whether it be a cruise or a trip abroad, have been canceled, and they are looking for something to do at home.”

Given the national outlook, airlines will try to appeal to travelers with their low-cost strategies, according to the MMGY report.

When will the cruises return? Not anytime soon

The cruise took a big hit after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an unqualified order on March 14 for cruise ships departing from U.S. ports after several epidemics of COVID-19 on board. The CDC extended its no-sailing ban on Thursday and did not provide a firm date for the return to sailing.

Cruise lines offered refunds and credits for future trips, but now these future dates are pending. The CDC’s announcement said it was working with cruise lines to adopt new public health protocols related to preventing the spread of COVID-19. In addition, it appears that cruise lines will not sail until after the pandemic has started or that the CDC is revising the ban, in accordance with the order.

Calle Aldama in the historic center of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.

Calle Aldama in the historic center of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

What about luxury and Europe?

Becky Powell, President of Protravel International, which has more than 1,000 travel agents in the United States and Great Britain, recognizes the attractiveness of destinations close to home.

“I think people will need their luxury solution before they are ready to board a plane,” she said in an email. “On the West Coast, we believe that properties like Montage Laguna Beach, Pelican Hill Resort, Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay and the Biltmore in Santa Barbara will be among the first properties to experience a strong and early return.”

She also sees people making reservations for luxury stays in Hawaii, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Tahiti and certain Caribbean sites.

Mark Anderson of Adventure Vacations in La Jolla specializes in trips to Paris. He thinks travel to Europe could bounce back before the end of 2020.

“Fall would be my best bet,” he said in an email. “It could be as early as August, because the whole European continent has the month [off]and nothing will stop them from going to the beach. “

After the September 11, 2001 crisis, Anderson offered trips to Paris for a bargain price of $ 399, including airfare, hotel, and breakfast. They sold well for months.

“It taught me a number of lessons, including the hierarchy of human needs, as well as the food, shelter, etc. that people need to travel,” said Anderson.



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