The Coronavirus swept silently into 2020 like a thief in the night just after leap year. People’s spirits were high on ideals of resolutions, not just for the new year, but for the start of a new decade. Then, just when the world thought it could come out from under the rock that was the shocking death of Kobe Bryant, the Coronavirus came in like Miley Cyrus in white, waist-high panties swinging its a demolition hammer across the jaw of the entire tourism industry.
Now, four months after the first reported case of the deadly virus in Asia, many borders across the globe are closed, entire countries are going into lock down prohibiting travel even on a domestic level (save emergencies), and a blanket of panic has begun to settle over the global economy. The profundity of the damage has yet to unfold. There are however, reports of the disruptions reach beginning to unfold. For example, industry giants such as Booking.com rumored to have gone out of business in the wake of the Coronavirus-tsunami that’s crashed head-on into the tourism industry.
The likelihood that the worst of it’s yet to come, grows as quickly as the number of infected persons around the world.
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH TOURISM NOW?
Border closures are being reported one after the other like drips of tap water from a leaky faucet. Countries in Asia, Europe, the United States and South America have completely restricted international travel. Those countries not yet affected have strongly considered closing borders in the coming weeks or have partial closures in place to stay ahead of the pandemic before the number of infected gets out of reach of resources.
But, I’d argue that tourism makes the world go round primarily because it serves as a universal language of currency.
For now, family vacations and reunions have been put on hold while people scramble to get back to their home countries before borders close to international air traffic. Certain airlines and organizations are working with customers, offering refunds or (on a minimum) credit for cancelled flights allowing people to reschedule their trip for dates later in the year. The travel section of the CDC website, which offers up-to-date information on border closures, still has no clear timeline dictating the length of these perimeters. In short, no one knows how long this might go on so no trip in the near future is safe.
WILL TOURISM MAKE A COMEBACK?
Despite the hysteria, hoarding and talk of apocalypse, it is my belief that tourism is impatiently waiting in the wings. Many avid travelers have high hopes for their wanderlust as early as May, leaving a spark of hope for those tourist-based businesses able to sustain themselves until then. When travel does find its way back, however, it’s suspected to be adapted to local trips (think stay-cations and road trips) and for shorter periods of time.
Personally, I don’t believe the severity of this pandemic will have passed by May, but I do agree with predictions, of course, that this will not last forever. What’s happening in the industry now is alarming, yes, affecting jobs, definitely, but is necessary and responsible until the complete containment of the virus is achieved.
Whether or not deep discounted rates and tickets will stick around is yet to be seen as the industry continues to bleed income in this limbo status. Enticing discounts should be present, however, as will unique offers such as free meals or nights, so be ready to take full advantage of them when this virus begins to wave its white flag. When the travel bans have been lifted and international air travel once again reinstated, consider the following while travel planning:
- Get travel insurance. We know now how massively upsetting the unexpected can actually get. Be prepared.
- Price isn’t everything: Don’t go for the cheapest deal, go for quality (free meals, attraction passes, etc.)
- Don’t trust unknown providers. New businesses will undoubtedly spring up in the wake of the demise of trusted brand names, but do your research. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
In the meantime, we all sit tight and do what human beings truly do best, support one another in hard times. In light of this total industry disruption, families are getting more time together (whether they like it or not in some cases) and those with access to nature have found a new affinity for the simplicities of life. Self-care is on the rise, too, simply because there’s now time.
So what can we expect in the weeks or months to come for tourism as the rest of the world braces itself for the inevitable presence of this unruly pathogen? Only time will tell.
Don’t forget to follow Meredith San Diego on YouTube! Travel the world without leaving your couch! Why? Because adventure! Go on, I dare you.