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The Travel Industry and COVID

The Travel Industry and COVID

As the COVID-19 pandemic ground everything to a halt, the world changed dramatically overnight. Travel to and from places had been stopped, airplanes no longer travelled from airport to airport, and countless small businesses shuttered in its wake.

The travel industry, most obviously, was one of the most impacted sectors since the outbreak, with domestic US travel seeing nearly 20% declines. This is a stark and dire situation, not just for the US travel industry but the industry across the globe. The economic impact has been so severe some economists have called this global economic downturn a depression.

However, as the world now starts to emerge out of their homes and life begins to return to a semblance of normal, the travel industry must now adjust to this “new normal” but what exactly will this “new normal” look like though? How will this change consumer behavior? Will we see a reduction in travel across the board or will we see the emergence of something new?

We at TeenyB wanted to get a better idea what the future portends for the travel industry at large. So we reached out to some of our favorite travel bloggers for their expert opinions and insight on how they are personally reacting, as well as their thoughts where they think travel and the industry is heading in a post-COVID 19 world.

Christy Woodrow

“The travel blogging field has been hit really hard, in addition to hotels, airlines, tour companies, etc. We have seen close to 90% of bookings cancelled for the rest of the year. Many companies have either closed their doors or scaled back dramatically. I do not anticipate travel bookings to increase dramatically until at least 2021. It’s a tough time for everyone, but I hope companies and destinations use this time to begin placing a bigger focus on environmental initiatives, which could end up being the silver lining in this difficult situation.”

Christy Woodrow is one half of the travel blog Ordinary Traveler alongside her husband Scott Woodrow.

David Hoffman

“The travel industry is at a standstill right now. People around the world whose livelihoods depend on international travel are struggling to make ends meet, as most countries have closed their borders to foreign travelers. It has created a ripple effect that has directly impacted everyone from tourism boards to tour operators to travel writers and travel content creators, myself included. 

“I have several streams of income but many of them have all but dried up because they're directly connected to the travel industry. That said, I'm one of the fortunate ones, as I had a backlog of video content I've been able to release regularly over the past several months and generate revenue from. 
Travel industry professionals should look into domestic travel for now. It seems overseas travel is limited and many countries are requiring quarantine. Until borders open with less restrictions it’s going to be challenging.”

World traveler David Hoffman operates the awesome city-guide filled blog David’s Been Here

Laurel Robbins

“COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on the travel industry but travelers can play a part in its recovery. Travel is important to help the industry recover, but it must be done differently with safety at the forefront. Instead of visiting hot spots and popular beaches, look for the hidden gems. The places where you might be lucky enough to have the beach all to yourself. Instead of a 2-hour guided group tour, consider a private customized tour. It may not be as expensive as you think. And try to support local businesses during your travels, whether it’s having lunch at an out-of-the-way restaurant while driving to the beach or buying an ice cream from a local shop, it all helps.”

Laurel Robbins operates her own travel company and blog Monkeys and Mountains which is awesome for the traveler who wants a personalized adventure!

Jan

“As avid travelers, we have to face the reality: international travel as we have known it for decades will only return to full normality once the coronavirus pandemic fades. We will only be able to go on a holiday again when other countries open their borders, when international flight schedules resume, and when governments across the world lift their warnings against all non-essential overseas travel. While experts don’t have a crystal ball, most agree that it will take around 2 to 3 years before the travel industry begins to return to regular levels. In the meantime, both the airline and hotel industry will undergo some very big changes. That said, some countries are offering some hope in these dark days and are preparing to welcome travelers again in the very near future.”

Jan is the mastermind behind The Luxury Travel Expert, dedicated to find the classiest hotels and best spots to check out around the world

Lucy Ruthnum

“I think Covid-19 has been hugely beneficial for the travel industry. For far too long, it has been more about "doing it for the 'gram" travel and I hope that people have been forced to stop it has given us time to think. Perhaps this will be the start of a change in priorities for travelers. I hope that moving forward people will be more conscientious when they travel and will choose more sustainable and eco-friendly options. I hope that big companies will reassess and will work towards becoming more environmentally-friendly. I would love to see the industry move towards more purposeful travel which respects the local people and environment more. I certainly hope that travel influencers will think more about the type of travel they engage with and promote.”

Self-described travel addict, Lucy Ruthnum runs Absolutely Lucy, a travel blog devoted to solo travel, positivity and how to travel the world no matter your budget.

Alex Reynolds

“In a way, coronavirus is forcing everyone to adopt a more responsible kind of travel: slow, local travel. With talks of mandatory two-week quarantine periods upon arrival in countries, the death of budget flight options, and a massive wave of closures of businesses, restaurants, and borders wherever you look, travel has become more expensive and more logistically complex. In the short-term, carefully planned and deliberate local travel is the target of many travel businesses and travelers, rather than short weekend hops to places further afield. It’s difficult for people like me whose work revolves around regions on the other side of the world, but that’s how the world is these days. Both travelers and travel industry workers have to find ways to adapt to this new reality.”

Exploring the roads and countries less travel, Alex Reynolds runs Lost with a Purpose, specializing in backpacking adventures.

Stephen

“COVID has affected almost every industry. And without a doubt, the travel sector came to a screeching halt. And many peoples lively hood disappeared from local tour guides in Thailand to bloggers like myself whose traffic plummeted to zero.

“At the moment, the travel sector remains rocked by the global pandemic. But the first rays of hope are on the horizon, as countries like Japan and Nepal are throwing out creative ideas on how to bring travelers back soon.

“The long term effects of COVID on the travel industry are unknown. How many tour companies and airlines will go under?

“There’s also the question of what the travel sector will look like once the pandemic passes. Will the prices of tickets, tours, and airfare skyrocket as companies to attempt to make up for lost profits? Or will they cut deals to have lower prices and get more people traveling faster?”

Stephen Schreck is a man of many talents, from find the right piece of travel gear to the best travel resources, A Back Packer’s Tale is a godsend for any world traveler.

Stefania Guglielmi

“The current pandemic is definitely having a huge impact on the travel industry as a whole, and it's not sparing anyone. Hotels, airlines, travel companies and travel content creators have seen virtually overnight a huge decrease in sales and traffic. I do believe the industry will recover, but there are definitely some things that will have to change, as people will change the way they travel, at least for the near future. I hope some positive change will come out of this as well. People during the pandemic have become more conscious of the impact that traveling has on the environment, and hopefully more companies will think more about their social responsibility and will come up with actions to protect the Earth even when this pandemic will be over.”

Get lost with solo travler Stefania Guglielmi as she documents her travels abroad on Every Steph.

Scott and Sylvie Biales

“We are currently in Northern Thailand--we chose to wait it out here as the healthcare system is better in Thailand vs the States. Thailand has closed their borders so the town is pretty empty. It is just long-term travelers, expats, and locals now. The service industry was crippled and even as things have started to open up the street vendors claim sales are still down 70% on average. Thais have enormous respect for their society so it is unusual to find anyone not wearing a mask or listening to the government's safety protocol. One of our American sponsors has informed us that they are seeing an uptick in their outdoor gear sales as travel is moving away from international in favor of domestic travel. We are grateful for being healthy and having the resources to wait things out in our lovely loft downtown and plan to return Stateside shortly, though we know things are much worse there.”

Ditch the Map with Scott and Sylvie Biales is pure inspiration for those who desire to leave it all behind and explore the world!

Cat Lin

“COVID-19 has taken us by surprise this year. The rapid spread of the virus has caused businesses closed, events canceled, and borders shut down. On top of that, the fear of getting sick has stopped many people from leaving home, forcing them to reconsider their travel plans - even if it is just a short trip to another city within the country. Hotels and airlines have been hit hard by the reduction in travel. To survive, many businesses in the travel and hospitality industry must pivot to serve people who want to see the world while staying safe.

“We’ve seen hotels putting efforts into enhancing privacy and adapting new hygiene protocols; in the meanwhile, suspending valet parking and daily housekeeping services. Tour operators take only private tours that are booked in advance; some even offer virtual tours for armchair travelers. Restaurants are either operating at lower capacity or focusing on meal-delivery and take-out orders. As for air travel, in addition to extensive sanitizing procedures and mandatory face-covering policy, some airlines have mapped out new seating arrangements (like blocking middle seats) to keep passengers separate. Though at this time, most people are in favor of road-tripping to play safe.”

Cat Lin is one half of the husband and wife travel blog that documents food, couples traveling and luxury spots across the world in For Two, Please

Laurence Norah

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive and far-reaching effect on the travel industry, almost all of it negative. The need to prevent and contain COVID-19 from spreading has led to a number of travel bans, closures, travel restrictions, and changes in policies within the travel industry. In the short-term this has led to dramatic drops in tourism to most parts of the world, but this is slowly picking up in some areas. But the effect is likely to continue to have an impact for at least the next 2 to 3 years as the industry recovers. First, we'll likely see local travel pick up, then longer road trips, then domestic travel with short-haul flights, and lastly international travel and cruising.

“On our two travel blogs, Finding the Universe and Independent Travel Cats, we have noticed a huge drop in folks searching for travel related content on our websites starting at the end of February which dropped even further into March and April. It is slowly picking back up but most of our readers are thinking about trips rather than planning them at this point given the current uncertainly in many parts of the world. Hopefully, we'll continue to see increased interest and planning as the pandemic subsides and it is safer for people to travel.”

Husband and wife duo, Laurence and Jessica Norah operate the fantastic travel blog, Finding the Universe, which has amazing photography and travel writing.

Dev Joshi

“The travel industry is undoubtedly the most affected due to COVID. And I think even if we find a cure to this problem tomorrow we will keep seeing its effect for a long time.  
Once we enter the post-COVID era, international travels will only begin with essential business travel. Next will be domestic leisure travel. International leisure travel will take the longest to come back to a point where it was before, and that too, with significant changes. 

  • Medical certificates will become a normal thing for obtaining visas. 
  • Airports will have compulsory medical screening too. 
  • Social distancing and the wearing of masks at public places like airports and shopping malls will be a common sight. 
  • People will be reluctant to travel on public transport. For those who can, renting a car and driving will be a natural choice. 
  • Crowded destinations will be avoided over less-crowded places & experiences. 
  • Expensive and renowned hotels will be preferred over cheap Airbnbs. 
  • Budget travelling and backpacking will take the longest time to heal. 

From individuals to private and government institutions, everyone will be a lot more careful in keeping THAT INVISIBLE ENEMY at bay!”

Foot Loose Dev is dedicated to off-the-beaten path slow travel and delves into the experiences of Dev Joshi as he travels the world looking for unexpected adventure and friendships made on the road.

Barbara Ann Weibel

“I live in Thailand, where all inbound international flights are currently suspended. The government has indicated they will begin to allow international flights and visitors as of July 1st, however only businessmen, investors, and those coming for medical procedures will be allowed initially. Even when Thailand does begin allowing tourists again, they will be limited to citizens of a select few countries where COVID-19 is believed to be under control. I'm American and it is highly unlikely that American tourists will be allowed in anytime soon, given the debacle that COVID-19 has become in the U.S. Thus, I can leave, but I can't come back in if I do. As this is my only home, that would be disastrous for me. It's looking like the only travel I will be doing for a while is domestic, and I suspect this is going to be the case for all Americans in the short to medium term. To my knowledge, no European or Asian countries are considering allowing Americans in yet.”

Barbara Ann Weibel’s Hole in the Donut is a wonderful, eye-opening look into travel around the world.

Chris Walker-Bush

“The travel industry has been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. In between travel restrictions and travel insurance policies not covering pandemics, the world of travel has ground to something of a standstill. As somebody who not only writes about travel but also sells it in the form of African safaris, I've seen firsthand just how drastic the change has been. My colleagues on the ground in Tanzania and Kenya have had their livelihoods dry up overnight. With no source of income and no support from their government, they have been forced to rely on the kindness of friends and former clients to make ends meet. It has just been brutal.

“Here in Georgia (the country) our friends who run wine tours have been similarly impacted, having to pivot their business model to wine of the month style deliveries while Georgia's borders are closed and domestic travel is banned. 

“If there is one silver lining to come out of the pandemic it is that it has encouraged people to innovate. Whether it is pivoting to a new business model like Adventurous Kate has done with her Patreon success, changing the product you sell, or - in my case - running paid Dungeons & Dragons games on the internet! When the dust settles and things have gone back to normal, we'll all hopefully have a greater appreciation of the opportunities and experiences that travel presents us with.”

Aussie on the Road is full of Chris’s insights on what he call ambitious travel, journeys across the Silk Road, spending months exploring African national parks or circumnavigating Australia!

Becca and Dan

“Well, yes, it's clear that COVID affected the travel industry in every way possible. The best I can do to speak to how the industry plans to move forward and adapt is, as of right now, making travelers feel safe and secure by spinning 'safe travel' into meaning isolated stays, spending time outside in nature, social distancing and road tripping.  In fact, if we travel at all this summer, it will be road trips in the East Coast region of the US, perhaps to some lovely isolated hiking destinations in Upstate NY or Vermont, and we'll be staying in Airbnbs that quality as 'entire homes,' such that we don't come into contact with anyone else.

“It's a great time to travel one-on-one as a couple, or as a family or with a family member, especially if you're both found to test COVID-free. In terms of adapting further, I think we're going to see a very slow return to air travel, as, for anyone like me who has a certain set of concerns in affecting those I live with or would like to be able to visit (elders, those who are immuno-compromised...), I'm not inclined to be in an indoor space with recycled air and spending hours on board with 60 to 100 strangers. I can't say how soon a vaccine will be developed, but I do know for sure that there is a belief held by many that air travel won't totally be safe until we're vaccinated against this communicable disease.”

Filled with gorgeous photography and excellent travel writing, Becca and Dan create something truly special with their travel website HalfhalfTravel.

Shobha George

“Summer won’t be the same unless we head to the beach! My kids will want to spend time playing in the sand and the waves. We will all want an ice cream as well! The good news is that time spent on the beach is time spent outside so we can effectively social distance at the right place.

“There will be some differences in how we spent summer break though. We may only do day trips this summer so that we can return to our home base in the evenings. Alternatively, we may rent a house so that we don’t mix too much with other people like you do in a hotel. We will also need to find lesser known beaches to get away from crowds! That, in itself, is an adventure -finding new places to explore and to enjoy.

“Without having a proper summer, the year won’t feel the same. It’s a definite break between school years for children and marking the middle of the year for adults. We would otherwise get to Christmas and wonder where did the year go??”

Shobha George’s Just Go Places is a light and fun family-oriented family travel blog that it just a pleasure to read. Go check her out!

Jasmine

“When COVID-19 reared its ugly head, travel was one of the industries hit the hardest. As a travel blogger I’ve seen its effects firsthand. Trips were cancelled, travel collaborations postponed indefinitely, and blog traffic decreased dramatically. My traffic hit its lowest point in April, but then I saw something interesting happen. All this time at home meant more time for me to write new posts and improve old ones. Now my traffic is actually higher than it was pre-COVID, which was definitely an unexpected silver lining amidst the havoc this pandemic has wreaked. 

“As travel restrictions ease up, I’ve started to plan trips again. But this time I’m holding them with an open hand- I’d hate to be disappointed by more travels being canceled. I’m focusing on sharing domestic travels, since that is what is available for most people. I think this pandemic has transformed the current travel industry into one focused on smaller-scale travel like road trips, domestic flights, and weekend getaways. Although COVID-19 has certainly been a tragedy, collectively we are appreciating the beauty you can find in places closer to home.”

Jasmine teaches you how to balance a full time job with globe-trotting adventures in between in Jasmine Alley, with awesome photography and articles specializing in local travel, and if you want to become a travel blogger yourself, she can teach you how as well!

Conclusion

All in all, there seems an obvious consensus that the COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed the industry, that goes without saying. However, there seems to be new paths forward as borders open across the world.

From deliberate, slower travel that focuses more on one’s local surroundings presents new and interesting opportunities for travelers to explore the world around them in a more “immediate” way than flying across the globe.

Another avenue the potential change for the industry is how the shift in safety and health consciousness will change the industry to provide smaller, more intimate travel accommodations, whether that’s through guide tours, smaller group tours, or even a customized private tour.

However, what may prove the most interesting point of emergence is how in a post-COVID 19 world, more popular destinations that once seemed almost unavoidable may now been cast aside for more “hidden gem” style locations, away from the mass of tourists, tourist traps, scammers, and other travel-related worries that come along with them.

All that being said, it’s still just too early to tell, but hopefully as people the world over start venturing outside of the house and life begins to return to a semblance of normalcy we will see these new avenues of how travel has changed.

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