Caroline Bologna – HuffPost.
Here's what you should consider before dusting off your passport and visiting another country.
Many Americans are longing for the days when they could take a dream vacation to Paris, Bali, or even just over the border to Toronto. As vaccine availability increases in the U.S., people are feeling a glimmer of hope that international travel will be back on the table soon.
But even as more people get vaccinated and countries open up to American tourists, traveling abroad may remain inadvisable for a time, especially to places with less widespread vaccine access. As we move forward and start planning trips again, there are important factors to consider before grabbing our passports and jetting off.
HuffPost asked bioethicists, as well as public health and travel experts, to weigh in on the ethics of traveling abroad before vaccines have been widely administered worldwide. Read on for their thoughts.
We haven’t ruled out transmission risk.
“Individuals who are vaccinated have protection ― although not 100% protection ― against developing severe disease if infected with SARS-CoV-2,” said Amy McGuire, professor of biomedical ethics and director of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine. “However, we are still generating evidence of how well different vaccines protect against transmission of the virus.”
It’s possible that vaccinated travelers could still transmit the virus to others, so until we have more data on how much vaccines reduce transmission risk, we can’t draw particularly meaningful conclusions about the ethics of travel in the coming weeks and months.
“If someone in the U.S. travels to another country, they may have an asymptomatic infection that they bring with them to the other country, putting people there at risk,” William Miller, senior associate dean for research at the Ohio State University’s College of Public Health, told HuffPost in an email. “Or they may acquire an infection there and bring it back with them to the people they are close to. The vaccinated traveler may not get sick but they may cause others to become sick ― that’s why, in general, it still is not a good idea to travel yet.”
Virus variants can be a cause for concern.
“Other countries may have higher rates of virus variants that are more transmissible and, in some cases, may cause more severe disease,” Miller said. “The transmission of these variants to and from vaccinated people is a concerning possibility.”
As we still have much to learn about new variants (like whether the currently approved vaccines protect against them and reduce their transmission), it’s important to remain cautious and keep unnecessary travel to a minimum.
“Travelers may be infected with a novel variant and get sick, and potentially increase its spread in the U.S.,” said Gabriel Lázaro-Muñoz, an assistant professor at Baylor’s Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy.
All health care infrastructure is not created equal.
“Please keep in mind that vaccine rollout in most countries is just getting started and they may not have COVID under control,” Lázaro-Muñoz noted. “Travelers could add more pressure to strained health care systems in other countries.”
Countries with minimal outbreaks can also be vulnerable, especially if they don’t have the same health care and vaccination resources that wealthier nations do. A recent piece by James Hamblin in The Atlantic pointed to the disparities in vaccine access.
“Vietnam, for example, is a country of 97 million people that has had fewer than 1,600 cases of COVID-19 and 35 deaths,” Hamblin wrote. “They have done an exemplary job of controlling the virus, and presumably have very low levels of immunity.”
Nicole Hassoun, a visiting scholar at Cornell University and professor of philosophy at Binghamton University who studies public health ethics, made a similar point to HuffPost.
“While most people in rich countries will probably have access to a vaccine this year, those in poor countries will likely have to wait years to get vaccinated,” Hassoun said.
“However, poor countries might rely on the tourism international travel brings, and in some cases even do worse, all things considered, without it,” she added. “So if you decide not to travel, you might consider finding other ways to support businesses and people in poor places this year. If nothing else, you might consider donating the money you would have used traveling for fun.”
There’s reason to be cautiously optimistic for the future.
As the number of vaccinated people increases worldwide, prospects for international travel may improve as well.
“As vaccine rollout advances, there will be much less community transmission, less likelihood of infection, and less likelihood of novel variants emerging,” Lázaro-Muñoz explained. “This will likely make tourism more manageable for host countries and greatly decrease the risk you may pose to others. At that point, you should feel more comfortable traveling to other countries.”
High vaccination rates and low COVID-19 rates, in both the traveler’s destination and country of origin, may make travel possible again, assuming we learn the current vaccines provide lasting immunity and considerably reduce transmission rates.
“One way to think about this is that you want to be in a fairly normal situation where your own local situation is open, with more or less normal activities albeit with masking and distancing,” Miller said. “And you want to be going to a place that is also fairly normal. And in both of those situations, you want rates low, despite the openness.”
In this scenario, travel demand is likely to reach new heights, said Konrad Waliszewski, co-founder and CEO of the travel app Tripscout.
“Once a high percentage of the world is vaccinated, prepare to witness the biggest travel boom the world has ever seen,” he said. “Pent-up demand from a year of lockdown, combined with a significant increase in remote work flexibility, a decrease in required business travel, and respect for the fact you never know when the world will shut down again, will cause people to travel like never before.”
Still, it’s imperative we continue to act with caution. The key to global travel will be making the vaccine accessible to as many people around the world as possible, and preventing the development and spread of new coronavirus variants.
“We are currently in a race to get enough people vaccinated that we achieve herd immunity before new viral strains that are resistant to the vaccines emerge and spread,” McGuire said. “So the answer to that question depends on how successful we are over the coming months at vaccinating large percentages of the population, while controlling the spread of new viral strains.”
The answer may vary based on the destination.
If we’re in a position to travel abroad this year, there will still be factors to consider when choosing a destination.
“I would look at how well the virus is being controlled in a certain destination, number of deaths and health care access,” said Jagdish Khubchandani, a professor of public health at New Mexico State University.
In addition to community transmission and health systems, Khubchandani advised taking into account the prevalence of new variants of the virus. Even if you are vaccinated, a country with a rapidly spreading variant is not the best place to visit, since we aren’t yet sure how well the current vaccines protect against them. A country’s vaccination rate will also affect the health care situation there.
“Many countries are heavily dependent on tourism and may allow travelers because it is such an important part of their economy, but that may not mean that they have COVID under control, and their health care system could be struggling,” Lázaro-Muñoz said. “Think of yourself as being a guest at a friend’s house. If your friend was having some serious difficulty, and your presence at the house somehow added to that, you would not want to add more trouble.”
Check the latest COVID stats on the State Department’s website or elsewhere. Consider the public health measures that a given destination has in place. If there are strict lockdowns and quarantine requirements (likely for good reason), you probably won’t be able to have the tourism experience you’d prefer.
Still, there are some international travel scenarios that could be lower-risk and doable this year. Just think about the impact of your travel on yourself, the people who live wherever you’re going, and the ones you’ll be returning home to.
One big consideration is “whether the visit will be spent mostly indoors or outdoors,” Miller said. “If someone goes to a Caribbean island and will be spending all of their time outside, including when they are eating, and only spend time inside in their hotel room, then the risk would be very low. The same would be true of any vacation or trip where the activity is primarily outside ― hiking and boating. But a trip with a focus indoors, like visiting museums, eating inside in restaurants, [and] visiting pubs, will have a higher risk.”
If you do travel, take precautions.
Some reasons for international travel are better than others ― like an emergency, visiting a dying relative, or getting a rare treatment for a serious disease. Still, many people are choosing leisure travel, and that number will inevitably grow as vaccinations rates increase. If you decide to travel abroad, it’s important to take the necessary health precautions to protect yourself and the people you’ll encounter.
“You have to be willing to follow the COVID preventive measures those countries have in place,” Lázaro-Muñoz said. “This could include pre-travel COVID testing and wearing masks. Being a tourist does not mean local rules do not apply to you.”
Keep your distance from others, mask up and wash your hands. Follow public health measures, and make smart decisions as the situation evolves. Make sure your travel companions, and the businesses and lodgings you plan to visit, do the same.
“Research and detailed trip planning is more important than ever,” Waliszewski said. “American travelers must constantly stay up to date on rapidly changing situations on the ground and the corresponding guidelines in the States and abroad. Travelers must also consider testing and quarantine requirements, safety guidelines, and local health care infrastructure prior to departing for any destination. I don’t see this sort of planning going away anytime soon, even after a high vaccination rate [is achieved].”
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that your personal health isn’t the only thing that matters.
“In this pandemic, we always have to consider how our behavior affects others,” Miller emphasized. “Your vaccination protects you, for sure, and it may protect others. But until we know for sure that it protects others by reducing transmission, we have to remain cautious.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that passenger traffic fell in January 2021, both compared to pre-COVID levels (January 2019) and compared to the immediate month prior (December 2020).
Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to January 2019 which followed a normal demand pattern.
Total demand in January 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 72.0% compared to January 2019. That was worse than the 69.7% year-over-year decline recorded in December 2020.
Total domestic demand was down 47.4% versus pre-crisis (January 2019) levels. In December it was down 42.9% on the previous year. This weakening is largely driven by stricter domestic travel controls in China over the Lunar New Year holiday period.
International passenger demand in January was 85.6% below January 2019, a further drop compared to the 85.3% year-to-year decline recorded in December.
“2021 is starting off worse than 2020 ended and that is saying a lot. Even as vaccination programs gather pace, new COVID variants are leading governments to increase travel restrictions. The uncertainty around how long these restrictions will last also has an impact on future travel. Forward bookings in February this year for the Northern Hemisphere summer travel season were 78% below levels in February 2019,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
World Share = of industry RPKs in 2020
RPK = Revenue Passenger Kilometer
ASK = Available Seat Kilometer
PLF (% PT) = Percentage point change in load factor compared with January 2019
PLF (Level) = Percentage point load factor.
International Passenger Markets
Asia-Pacific airlines’ January traffic plummeted 94.6% compared to the 2019 period, virtually unchanged from the 94.4% decline registered for December 2020 compared to a year ago. The region continued to suffer from the steepest traffic declines for a seventh consecutive month. Capacity dropped 86.5% and load factor sank 49.4 percentage points to 32.6%, by far the lowest among regions.
European carriers had an 83.2% decline in traffic in January versus January 2019, worsened from an 82.6% decline in December compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity sank 73.6% and load factor fell by 29.2 percentage points to 51.4%.
Middle Eastern airlines saw demand plunge 82.3% in January compared to January 2019, which was broadly unchanged from an 82.6% demand drop in December versus a year ago. Capacity fell 67.6%, and load factor declined 33.9 percentage points to 40.8%.
North American carriers’ January traffic fell 79.0% compared to the 2019 period, up slightly from a 79.5% decline in December year to year. Capacity sagged 60.5%, and load factor dropped 37.8 percentage points to 42.9%.
Latin American airlines experienced a 78.5% demand drop in January, compared to the same month in 2019, worsened from a 76.2% decline in December year-to-year. January capacity was 67.9% down compared to January 2019 and load factor dropped 27.2 percentage points to 55.3%, highest among the regions for a fourth consecutive month.
African airlines’ traffic dropped 66.1% in January, which was a modest improvement compared to a 68.8% decline recorded in December versus a year ago. January capacity contracted 54.2% versus January 2019, and load factor fell 18.4 percentage points to 52.3%.
Domestic Passenger Markets
World Share = of industry RPKs in 2020
RPK = Revenue Passenger Kilometer
ASK = Available Seat Kilometer
PLF (% PT) = Percentage point change in load factor compared with January 2019
PLF (Level) = Percentage point load factor.
China’s domestic traffic was down 33.9% in January compared to January 2019, dramatically worsened compared to the 8.5% year-over-year decline in December. The fall was owing to stricter traffic controls ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday period amid several localized COVID-19 outbreaks.
Russia’s domestic traffic, by contrast, rose 5.5% compared to January 2019, a turnaround from the 12.0% year-to-year decline in December versus the same month in 2019. It was driven by a fall in COVID-19 cases since a peak late in December and by national holidays in the first week of the month.
The Bottom Line
“To say that 2021 has not gotten off to a good start is an understatement. Financial prospects for the year are worsening as governments tighten travel restrictions. We now expect the industry to burn through $75-$95 billion in cash this year, rather than turning cash positive in the fourth quarter, as previously thought. This is not something that the industry will be able to endure without additional relief measures from governments.
Increased testing capability and vaccine distribution are the keys for governments to unlock economic activity, including travel. It is critical that governments build and share their restart plans along with the benchmarks that will guide them. This will enable the industry to be prepared to energize the recovery without any unnecessary delay,” said de Juniac.
Global standards to securely record test and vaccination data in formats that will be internationally recognized are urgently needed. “These will be critical to restarting international travel if governments continue to require verified testing or vaccination data. IATA will soon launch the IATA Travel Pass to help travelers and governments manage digital health credentials. But the full benefit of IATA Travel Pass cannot be realized until governments agree the standards for the information they want,” said de Juniac.
View the full January Air Passenger Market Analysis, (including 2021 vs. 2020 comparisons)
Posted By Ken Storey on Wed, Mar 3, 2021 at 1:10 am Orlando Weekly.
Cruises are still months away from resuming, but once they do, things will be very different. Those differences will be found beyond the full-service buffets and improved air sanitation onboard; in fact, many ports are questioning if they want to return to the pre-pandemic way things were.
As ships grow larger and cruising becomes more popular, cruise ports the world over have struggled with overtourism. Even prior to the pandemic, destinations like Venice, Barcelona and Boracay moved to lower the number of cruise passengers stopping at their ports.
The trend has rapidly spread since the pandemic all but shut down tourism in most places.
Speaking at an event announcing an expansion of the Aster Cayman medical city, Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin explained that the nation was trying to move beyond its reliance upon the cruise industry. “We’re trying to diversify the whole tourism industry. What I foresee, certainly if we [the People's Progressive Movement party] retain [control of] the government, is less focus on growing cruise tourism. I think we have a very clear signal from just about every source that the great numbers that we’ve had since the cruise industry began in earnest and have always been the objective.”
He went on to say, “We can survive without those large numbers,” adding, “We need more balance and to not overwhelm the systems that we have.”
The Cayman Islands leader's comments came as the nation canceled a cruise berthing facility in George Town.
Other ports are also looking at ways to ensure the overtourism that overwhelmed their communities doesn’t return. Last year, Key West voted on three measures to limit the number of cruise passengers to the Florida city. Despite the majority of Key West voters approving those measures, Florida Republicans have signaled they may look to block them from happening, just as they overturned local initiatives in Orlando, Miami and other progressive-leaning communities.
Bar Harbor, Maine, is moving forward with reviewing guidelines similar to those in Key West with the goal of voting the policies by mid-year. With cruising now at a standstill, some destinations are seeing just how much — or how little — cruise passengers actually impacted the local economies.
Pointing to the pandemic, Premier McLaughlin said, “There’s a silver lining wherever you look hard enough for it, and having had to do without cruises for a year has told us what the consequences of that are.” He also said that speaking with business leaders and those in the community, it was clear that “we don’t want to go back to the large numbers of visitors that was the case [before the pandemic].”
The drop in tourism has been felt across the Caribbean, but the International Monetary Fund predicts a 6.2 percent drop in GDP with visitor numbers being almost nonexistent.
Part of this may be due to the smaller financial impacts that cruise passengers have compared to multi-day visitors. A study in 2018 for the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association found in the Cayman Islands an average cruise passenger spends $105.17. That was high compared to some other ports. At Mexico’s Puerto Chiapas, passengers spent just $34.32 on average. Of the 36 destinations the report looked at, the U.S. Virgin Islands was the highest, with an average of $166.42. The study found for the 2017/2018 cruise year, the 36 destinations saw a combined “nearly $3.4 billion in direct expenditures, 79,000 jobs and $903 million in employee wages” from the cruise industry.
For comparison, in 2018, the Las Vegas Convention Center alone generated $385.5 million in wages. When expanded to include indirect and induced impacts, the Las Vegas Convention Center had a regional impact of $2.2 billion, with $589.6 million in wages. An average Vegas convention-goer spends $1,020 per trip, with an average leisure visitor to the desert city spending $821.
The numbers are even higher in Orlando, with an average convention-goer spending an estimated $2,229 with an average stay of just over two nights, according to a 2018/2019 report by the convention center. Visitors to Orlando, on average, spend six times more than cruise passengers in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Before the pandemic, small ships were already the new trend, with everyone from Virgin to Ritz-Carlton announcing yacht-inspired vessels. The focus then was on the improved passenger experience such ships can offer. Still, as ports reflect on the overtourism they previously faced, they too seem interested in these smaller boats. As more places push away the larger ships, these smaller ones may become the only option if a visitor wants to take a cruise to certain destinations. Some of the companies behind the smaller ships also encourage longer stays in port, allowing for passengers to experience the port's dinner and late-night offerings.
Cruise companies have responded to restrictions like the ones in Key West by switching out those destinations with stops at other ports of call, including their private islands. After the three initiatives in Key West were approved, Royal Caribbean replaced visits to the Florida city with ones to its private island, CocoCay.
There are plenty of signs of pent-up demand for tourism post-pandemic. Just where all those tourists will be headed, though, is still unclear.
Costa Rica is encouraging tourists to offset their trip’s carbon emissions. Everything from flights to activities while on holidays can be logged into a carbon calculator that reveals their net carbon footprint and its costs. The visitors can then invest the sum into reforestation efforts or other regional sustainability initiatives.
The project, known as Fonafifo, is a collaboration between the National Forest Financing Fund and the Costa Rican Tourism Institute. It aims to support local environmental projects that promote sustainability while nurturing local culture and economic prospects.
All the funds will go towards natural regeneration, tree planting, agroforestry, and protecting hydrographic basins. The money will be managed by a national program directed by Fonafifo called the Payment of Environmental Services Program (PSA) – which works directly with conservation groups, organizations, farms, and landowners who have joined the program.
The Central American nation is well-known for being a country that prizes sustainability. It has more than doubled its tree cover since the eighties – from 21% to 54%. It has pledged to become net-zero carbon by 2050. It already generates nearly 100% of its nationwide electricity demand using renewable energy year-round.
It also banned Styrofoam containers and set a target to become the world’s first plastic-free country.
The country may be small, but it’s home to over 6% of Earth’s recorded biodiversity. That’s why conservation schemes and national parks protect 26% of its forests.
Gustavo J Segura, minister of tourism, said:
Costa Rica is perceived as a society that honors nature in its territory: it protects, cares for and shares, enhances the human well-being of its citizens, described as friendly, hospitable and happy people. This ICT and Fonafifo agreement is consistent with sustainability; it invites our tourists to mitigate their trips and thus contribute to the protection of forests and the recovery of forest cover. It is a step forward in responsible tourism.
The El Jicaro farm in Heredia Province joined the PSA in 2015. Since then, it has received support to plant trees along the Sarapiqui River. It grew 14 species, helping increase biodiversity and natural habitats for wildlife. Tourists can go to the farm and learn about the project while sampling fresh hearts of palm, a popular food in the region.
The owner of Flores del Bosque farm joined the PSA in 2004. He converted six-hectares of his property into a conservation zone and received support from the program. He used that money to pay for his daughter’s education.
We are very satisfied to see that we are contributing to the environment, so I invite anyone who has the opportunity to hopefully do so because it conserves the environment, contributes to humanity; It is not only the benefit of my family, but it extends to the neighbors.
Fonafifo was established in 1995. Since then, it has signed over 18,000 contracts with Costa Rican landowners and businesses. Those deals have resulted in planting over eight million trees and the recovery of more than 1.3 million hectares of forest.
And Fonafifo’s new tourism initiative could accelerate these recovery efforts dramatically. The PSA estimates that if at least 10% of the tourists offset their emissions, it would generate over US$3.5 billion annually. That’s enough money to purchase over half a million trees.
Andrea Meza, the minister of environment and energy, said:
This program is a green engine for the sustainable economic recovery of Costa Rica. The arrival of visitors to the country benefits the ecotourism sector. The money that comes in from offsetting its emissions strengthens forest conservation and the families that depend on this incentive. It seems vital to me that we begin to take measures to address the air emissions of our tourists and seek additional benefits for their compensation.
Imagine if every country in the world did this!
Quarantines continue to frustrate travelers and strangle airlines a year into the pandemic, with the threat from highly infectious coronavirus variants meaning enforced isolations are mostly getting longer and stricter rather than easing up.
Even as vaccines embolden countries like Israel and the U.K. to plot paths to reopening, authorities around the world are tightening the screws to stop Covid-19 mutations slipping through quarantine models designed to contain a less aggressive virus. With questions hanging over the efficacy of vaccines on mutated strains, this new front in the public-health battle is damping hopes of a swift rebound in international air travel.
While U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that foreign travel could start as soon as May 17, triggering a surge in flight bookings, England has only just put in place its toughest border curbs of the pandemic, imposing 10-day hotel quarantines for British and Irish nationals and residents arriving from dozens of countries.
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Meanwhile, in parts of the world that have been most successful in keeping out the virus, quarantine rules are being tightened and policy makers are striking a more cautious tone on when travel may start again. Authorities in Melbourne are sketching out plans for custom-built isolation facilities outside the city. Hong Kong has one of the most extreme policies: a soul-crushing 21-day hotel lockup awaits residents arriving from outside China.
The different requirements are neutering a push by airlines for a standardized global response to get people flying again. The International Air Transport Association’s proposal for test or vaccine certificates to replace quarantines hasn’t gained traction with governments.
“We cannot seriously talk about recovery as long as quarantine requirements are in place, said Volodymyr Bilotkach, a lecturer in air-transport management at the Singapore Institute of Technology. “Countries continue making up their rules, changing them as they go.
Isolation can take a toll on travelers stuck in hotel rooms, which often have sealed windows and minimal space. Finance worker Chanyoung Kim struggled through three weeks without exercise, fresh air or human interaction in the Sheraton in Hong Kong on his return from a business trip to South Korea. Kim, who has also endured several 14-day quarantines in Seoul, has sought treatment from a psychiatrist and told his manager he’s not sure how long he can maintain this lifestyle.
“It was getting mentally difficult, said the 42-year-old. “When you’re on your own, one tends to think a lot and that’s not a good experience.
Governments have decided it’s a price worth paying to keep out fast-moving Covid-19 strains from places such as South Africa, which was linked to a 16-fold increase in cases in neighboring Zambia within a month. Mutations have also been tied to Brazil and the U.K.
“The problem is at this point we have very little information about these variants, said Abrar Chughtai, an epidemiologist who lectures at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Tighter quarantines might be sensible as a precautionary measure, he said.
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The U.K.’s restrictions aim to shield the country as the government accelerates its vaccination program. Adults arriving from a so-called red list of countries must pick up the 1,750-pound ($2,450) bill for hotel quarantine, and face a 10,000-pound fine or a decade in prison for breaking the rules.
Prime Minister Johnson fueled optimism this week by saying the end of the pandemic is in sight for England, unless infection rates surge again. All adults in the U.K. are due to be offered a vaccine shot by the end of July, and data suggest one dose provides a high level of protection.
There are signs elsewhere, too, that curbs on travelers could ease with inoculations and lower caseloads.
Taiwan, which has had only nine virus deaths, may loosen border controls next month, while Macau has reopened to quarantine-free travel from mainland China. Thailand is considering scrapping two-week isolations for vaccinated tourists. More than 63 million doses have been given to Americans.
At the same time, fresh restrictions are being imposed on travelers to block Covid-19 variants. As of Feb. 22, passengers on flights into Canada must pay for three nights at a government-approved hotel as part of their mandatory 14-day quarantines. The New Zealand government is considering forcing travelers from overseas to isolate at home even after their 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine ends. From Feb. 1, anyone entering Vietnam has to do 21 days of quarantine at their own expense.
The constantly changing rules and approaches are wreaking havoc with flight networks and schedules.
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. axed services to Vancouver, San Francisco and other cities from this week and has introduced an arduous shift cycle for crew members to bypass Hong Kong’s new rules on quarantine. Cathay crew can volunteer for a 21-day work shift, during which they stay in a company hotel whenever they fly into Hong Kong. That is followed by 14 days of quarantine in another hotel, and then 14 days of leave.
“The focus of governments is almost universally on containing the spread of the virus across borders, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac wrote in his blog in early February. “There is little hope of an imminent return to normal.
Rather than gradually being wound back, some quarantines are approaching permanency. The Australian state of Victoria has started looking at “long-term solutions for separating overseas arrivals from the local population, with arrivals housed in newly-built complexes near airports. The review followed an outbreak of the virulent U.K. strain from a quarantine hotel in Melbourne.
In Hong Kong, Kim has become a disheartened isolation veteran.
“No matter how long or short the quarantine is, it’s still a very difficult experience, he said.
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Tourism in the Post-Pandemic World Economic Challenges and Opportunities for Asia-Pacific and the Western Hemisphere.
Published by the International Monetary Fund: February 19th 2021.
Summary: This departmental paper analyzes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism in the Asia Pacific region, Latin America, and Caribbean countries. Many tourism dependent economies in these regions, including small states in the Pacific and the Caribbean, entered the pandemic with limited fiscal space, inadequate external buffers, and foreign exchange revenues extremely concentrated in tourism. The empirical analysis leverages on an augmented gravity model to draw lessons from past epidemics and finds that the impact of infectious diseases on tourism flows is much greater in developing countries than in advanced economies.
The COVID-19 pandemic, a global crisis like no other in modern history, has led to a sudden stop in travel and a collapse in economic activity worldwide. A major economic driver, tourism accounts for more than 10 percent of the global economy and in many countries a large share of exports and foreign exchange earnings. The industry is also highly interconnected; multiple sectors are dependent on its performance. The pandemic has had severe repercussions on the complex global tourism supply chain, putting millions of tourism jobs at risk. Informal and migrant workers, particularly women and youth, have suffered disproportionately from diminished employment opportunities and lack of access to social safety nets, leading to increased poverty and slowing progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
This departmental paper analyzes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism in the Asia Pacific region, Latin America, and Caribbean countries. Many tourism dependent economies in these regions, including small states in the Pacific and the Caribbean, entered the pandemic with limited fiscal space, inadequate external buffers, and foreign exchange revenues extremely concentrated in tourism. The empirical analysis leverages on an augmented gravity model to draw lessons from past epidemics and finds that the impact of infectious diseases on tourism flows is much greater in developing countries than in advanced economies. Given the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 crisis, forward looking model simulation results for tourism dependent economies show scope for a faster recovery, if rapid advancements in vaccine distribution were to bring back travel to pre-pandemic levels, but also significant downside risks from protracted uncertainty and limited vaccine effectiveness and availability, with deep and long-term scarring effects potentially amplifying existing vulnerabilities.
The paper also explores several innovations given the peculiarities of the tourism industry and high degree of pandemic uncertainty. The paper finds vii strong correlation between the spread of COVID-19 and big data high-frequency indicators on travel, which suggests that the quality of healthcare systems will be pivotal in the post-pandemic recovery of the tourism sector. The analytical and modeling techniques leverage the interaction among epidemiology, tourism development models, and macro structural features of tourism dependent economies. The analysis suggests, among other things, the challenges that tourism-based economies could face in leapfrogging from high-density to socially distanced tourism. For some countries, the inherent rigidities of switching from one tourism business model to another, combined with the likely protracted process of building consensus across stakeholders, could amplify the pre pandemic macro and structural vulnerabilities and make the transition to the new normal more challenging.
The paper examines policy options to navigate the post-pandemic world. Although tourism bounced back relative quickly from the impact of past epidemics like SARS, the COVID-19 pandemic could create long-term scarring effects. How tourism recovers will depend on the availability and distribution of an effective vaccine and policy choices made during the pandemic, specifically:
Phase 1, crisis mitigation: In response to the COVID-19 shock, many countries have provided fiscal support to buttress demand for the industry and preserve jobs. Further support may be needed and there is scope for well-designed fiscal stimulus to support the most affected sectors including the poorest households and businesses, while being mindful of available fiscal policy space and debt sustainability concerns.
Phase 2, reopening: As countries reopen their economies and borders, special attention should be devoted to health and hygiene protocols. During this transition phase, domestic tourism is being incentivized in several countries through attractive offers from hotels and tour operators and the tourism sector is being integrated into governments’ re opening strategies. The creation of COVID-free travel bubbles also shows some potential across regions, despite implementation challenges. Targeted policies to address the pandemic impact on youth and women, enhancing access to new opportunities, including through digitalization, can help mitigate the scarring effect in the tourism sector, broaden inclusion, and help lift potential growth. As many firms in the industry, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), are at risk of slipping from liquidity stress into insolvency, monitoring and promoting needed restructuring and retooling in a timely manner will be critical to the recovery.
Phase 3, recovery: As the recovery takes hold, a shift to eco-sustainable tourism services with lower density, higher value-added, and greater digitalization may allow countries to reduce the health risks potentially associated with mass travel, foster a greener recovery, as well as diversify their economies to increase their resilience to future shocks. This challenging juncture presents an opportunity to accelerate long term structural transformation, within and beyond the tourism sector, to mitigate the impact on output and jobs and adapt to the post pandemic normal. Harnessing a long-term solution will require global cooperation, starting with the immediate priority of establishing global safety and health protocols as well as making a reliable vaccine widely available.
For full 115 page report click below
Table of Contents
Executive Summary Introduction
The Tourism Landscape
Annex 1.Case Studies
Annex 2.Applying A Gravity Model to Predict Post-Pandemic Tourism Flows
Annex 3.Analyzing Macroeconomic Scenarios Using GIMF
Annex 4.Assessing Export Development Potential in Tourism-Dependent Economies
Leisure Travel’s Recovery Is Being Held Back by The Lack Of Standardized Testing And Foreign Entry Rules
Dan Reed Senior Contributor Forbes Magazine.
The slow pace of development of a single global system for tracking and certifying the Covid-19 vaccination status of the world’s 7.8 billion people is delaying the beginning of a meaningful recovery of air travel demand.
No one is expecting the deeply depressed demand for business travel to begin recovering until late this year, and probably not even then. But the overall travel industry - including not just airlines but also hotels and other accommodations, attractions, convention and trade show facilities, resorts and restaurants – desperately is hoping to see the beginnings of a significant pickup in leisure-oriented travel this spring or summer. True, leisure travelers spend far less money on average than business travelers, but their typically huge numbers could help cash-starved travel service companies staunch the flow of red ink, bring back many of their laid-off workers and keep some of them out of bankruptcy.
Yet, even people who are tired of being cooped up by the pandemic, and who are eager to travel for fun again, likely won’t do so in large numbers until the industry and various governments settle on a clear set of virus testing protocols and rules for crossing international, or even state borders. That’s according to a new study from travel consultancy IdeaWorks called 2021: How Airlines and Travelers Will Adapt as the Pandemic Recedes. The study is the second in a series from IdeaWorks. It is on a deep analysis of historical trends in human responses to major pandemics as far back as the 12th Century, and on an analysis of current efforts to rekindle travel demand and the challenges that must be overcome to achieve that goal.
In the consulting firm’s first report in the series, issued Dec. 1, it suggested that somewhere between 19% and 36% percent of the business travel traffic aboard the world’s airlines prior to the pandemic may never come back at all, or at least will take many years to do so. That’s because of adaptations businesses have made and continue to make in the absence of their ability to travel. The use of video conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and others, new ways of providing support, sales and training services online rather than in person, and other behavioral changes will continue to erode demand for certain types of business travel, according to that first report.
Now, the latest report says, “There is a need to distribute vaccines as quickly as possible.” But “much of the world is unprepared for electronic health passports from technical and cultural perspectives,” the report says. “Creating a mobile application (to serve as an electronic health passport) is doable and deliverable. However, feeding that system with verified data from field locations throughout an entire country is a significant hurdle. This is an admirable and beneficial objective, but one that won’t be meaningfully achieved during 2021.”
Unlike most other economic sectors, which are expected to rebound strongly over the first four years after the current pandemic is perceived to be under control or eliminated, IdeaWorks’ analysis suggests that many of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on travel demand will linger for years. Business travel demand will be most heavily and negatively affected, and those affects will endure much longer than the pandemic’s affects on leisure travel.
That’s why, IdeaWorks suggests, travel service companies in general, and especially airlines now need to give serious thought to ways of attracting as many leisure travelers as possible. Though business travel is the motive behind just 29% of all passenger trips globally (and the motivation for as much as 50% of all trips on major global airlines that target business customers), business travelers tend to spend almost twice as much on their trips as the average leisure traveler. Thus, going forward airlines and other travel companies will need lots and lots of additional leisure travelers in the years ahead to partially make up for the lost revenue associated with whatever portion of business travel does not come back.
Jay Sorensen, IdeaWorks’ president, wrote in the December report that “Recognizing that something significant and permanent is happening to our business culture is not a popular topic. The airline industry really wants a return to pre-pandemic spending on higher yield airline tickets for business trips. Most of this activity will return, but it’s crucial to realize that some will not.”
Changing the interior configurations of certain planes, especially widebody jets aimed at long haul and international routes, to increase the number of economy and “premium economy” seats – and reducing the number of premium class “suites” and lie-flat business class seats should be up for serious consideration at conventional airlines. Doing so could generate more revenue per plane load over the next few years – or longer. Currently, most big conventional airlines allocate larger-than-historically-normal amounts of space on their planes to seats typically bought by high fare-paying business travelers. Prior to the pandemic, and in most cases still today, conventional airlines’ business or first class seats feature spacious mini-office surroundings and/or seats that convert into lie-flat beds with partitions that enhance privacy.
“Consumers all over the world will continue their love of travel for vacations, adventure, relaxation, and to connect with family and friends,” Sorensen wrote in the new study. He added that “Leisure travel has a significant advantage over business trips, because technology is no substitute for the sounds, tastes, and smells of being on a beach, in a forest, or on a mountaintop.” And that, the study suggests, that consumers’ willingness to engage in outdoor recreational activities during the fall of 2020 should grow and drive more demand for outdoor-focused travel later this year.
Accordingly, the preferred means of travel as leisure travel begins to recover, IdeaWorks suggests, will be the family car (or a rented vehicle), not the airplane. A preference for staying relatively close to home and still somewhat isolated from other people makes trips by car both a conservative and logical choices. The study suggests car travel fits well with other kinds of trips that early returning leisure travelers are likely to take: “VFR” (Visiting Friends & Relatives) and “rural, recreational and beach vacations.”
That, however, is not an encouraging outlook for airlines or, for that matter, tourist attractions in urban locations, or high-end hotels that target big-spending business travelers.
In IdeaWorks’ new report Sorensen contrasted the 2020s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic against economic recovery after the global 1918 Flue pandemic – an economically over-heated period now known as the “Roaring Twenties.” This time around, he says, pent-up demand for all sorts of goods and services should power a recovery in retail and other sectors. But even though people are eager to get out and to do something for fun, travel won’t recover as much or as quickly. Both business and leisure travelers will resume traveling, at distinctively different rates, and only to the degree that they perceive that he right steps are being taken on a global basis to make it safe once again to travel.
Actually, booking a trip on a plane will require, for most people, greater assurance that there is not at risk when they travel. And though there is now growing discussion of using technology to do that by tracking who has or has not been vaccinated, neither the global travel industry nor the world’s governments have settled on a single system - or two - for doing so. Unfortunately, establishing one, or even a few global vaccination tracking systems to fight the spread of the virus is sure to raise a number of difficult-to-resolve legal, logistical, cost and technical issues. They include:
“Testing for active Covid-19 infection is an effective method to reduce viral spread but the complex nature of the process virtually ensures quick, efficient, and pervasive solutions will not develop this year,” the new IdeaWorks report says.
Another barrier that will keep not only business travel but also international leisure travel from fully rebounding, the IdeaWorks report said, is the existence of tough health testing requirements to enter most nations. Such requirements have made it a practical impossibility for most people to enter the vast majority of nations other than their own, even if they have passed one or more the various virus detection tests. Beyond that, the complexity of navigating one’s way across international borders when nations are imposing – and frequently changing – rules for entry is another significant deterrent to travel of any type across borders.
Sorensen, in an interview, said insecurity about what rules might change or be added while one is traveling is a big enough concern to keep nearly everyone from traveling.
“If you’re in in Little Rock, and you fly to New York, and while you’re away there’s a sudden a 1,000 case outbreak back in Little Rock, you couldn’t go back home,’ Sorensen asked? “Or if you live in New York, would you fly to Little Rock knowing that if they have a break out there, New York may not let anyone who’s been in Arkansas recently come in there? That would mean you couldn’t go home.”
Thus, he said, not only do nations – and U.S. states – need to settle on agreed-upon rules for travel during a pandemic and its eventual wind-down, they also need to standardize their Covid-19 testing and data reporting protocols before either leisure or business travel will begin to comeback to something closer to pre-pandemic levels of demand.
“I try not to get into this business of predicting when travel demand will begin to recover,” he added. “But I can say that it won’t comeback the way we all want it to until was all get on the same sheet of music. And that’s not happening yet.”
For the complete Ideaworks Report click below
2020 was a disastrous year for tourism. But with some exceptions: in the midst of the pandemic, Mexico ranks third among the world's most visited countries, after Italy and France.
Even as the coronavirus pandemic continues, Mexico is open for tourism.
Since December, planes have been taking off and landing at Cancun International Airport every five minutes. It is high season in the Mexican seaside resort on the Caribbean coast. Lufthansa expanded its schedule and added the Mexican tourist hotspot in October — despite COVID-19.
Tourists from Europe and North America are flocking to the beaches and standing in line to admire the Mayan pyramids. Hotel and restaurant owners are relieved. It seems the pull of a sandy beach is enough to eclipse alarming press reports about crowded intensive care units and rising infections in Mexico, where 174,000 people have died from COVID-19 so far. According to the latest preliminary statistics from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Mexico was Latin America's most visited destination in 2020, moving up to third place worldwide, after Italy and France.
Open borders and visits home
The reasons for this are manifold. Mexico never closed its borders and is still one of the few countries in the world that does not require a negative PCR test upon entry. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has ruled out lockdowns, instead putting the economy first. Another reason is the fact that Mexican migrants came home to visit their families at Christmas time.
Mexico City reopens shops despite virus alert
But the UNWTO statistics don't necessarily tell the whole story. Michael Hallé is the Canadian co-founder of the 10Gates Matrix Inc. consulting firm, which specializes in travel data. He's been advising authorities and entrepreneurs in the industry in Mexico for 30 years, and told DW that they also "included the pre-pandemic months of January to March 2020 that count as high season in Mexico."
Confidence-inspiring hygiene measures
Despite ranking third in the UNWTO statistics, the slump was marked in Mexico, too. According to the Inegi statistics institute, 2020 saw almost 48% fewer visitors and 55% less foreign exchange revenue compared to the previous year. The fact that the sector survived is remarkable — unlike in Germany, there were no subsidies for foundering airlines and tour operators. In fact the Mexican government closed down the national tourism marketing agency shortly before the pandemic to save money.
But as Hallé explains, regional authorities and tourism associations have stepped into the breach. "As early as summer 2020, hotels on the Caribbean coast had certified hygiene concepts, the likes of which we don't even have in Canada," he said, adding that gave travelers confidence. Face masks are a requirement in the state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located — just a three- to four-hour flight away for Canadians and US citizens, which means the risk of contracting COVID-19 on a flight is lower. According to UNWTO, the majority of foreign visitors came from these two countries.
Mexico was the world's third most visited country in 2020
Many doctors consider the opening risky and blame tourism for the rise in infections in vacation destinations. Official statistics showed rising numbers in February, but infections were still fewer than in the hotspots around Mexico City and in central Mexico.
Domestic tourism was another decisive factor, a lucrative market in a country with 127 million inhabitants. Mexican visitors helped cushion the slump in international business.
Meinolf Koessmeier runs the Mexico Adventures agency in Cuernavaca that organizes motorcycle tours for Mexicans in Europe. In 2020, his business survived because he offered local tours. He hopes business will return to normal in 2022.
"There's a lot of interest in nature-based vacations," he said, adding that motorcycle manufacturers all over the world enjoyed record sales in 2020, and buyers were now just waiting for an opportunity to hit the road.
Nature conservation in cruise ship paradise
Hallé agreed that consumers are feeling a travel itch and said the survey showed that Americans, in particular, were optimistic again and "hoping to travel in the next 6 months thanks to vaccinations."
All the same, the sector is unlikely to see a quick recovery. Canada and the US have just imposed stricter travel requirements on returnees due to the new virus mutations, including negative PCR tests and stricter quarantine regulations. In response, major Mexican airports immediately offered PCR testing modules, and even some hotels are providing the service.
According to Hallé, the pandemic is a chance for Mexico to offer more sustainable tourism. Mass check-ins and city trips are out of the question in the medium term, he said — and countries like Mexico, with its vast countryside and natural beauty, may very well benefit in a post-COVID world.
It could even improve, if properly managed
It is an unfortunate fact that the ease of throwing things into a wheelie-bag and travelling far and wide helped spread covid-19 around the world. The effects on leisure travel and destinations that rely on tourism will be felt for years to come. But just as the way we travel may improve as a result, so the chance for countries to rethink tourism industries could turn a bruised and battered industry into a better one.
The pursuit of pleasure using cultural pursuits as cover goes back to the days of the grand tourists, who trawled Europe’s artistic heritage as well as indulging in more hedonistic activities. As souvenirs they returned with paintings, sculptures and sometimes syphilis. Travel was hard and expensive. The earl of Salisbury spent the equivalent of nearly £500,000 today on his grand tour in the 18th century, according to mbna, a credit-card firm. Even 50 years ago foreign travel was a luxury pursuit. In 1970 a return flight from New York to London cost around $500 (equivalent to $3,500 today).
Lower fares and the rise of the internet have made holidays cheaper and easier to arrange. Airlines, hotel chains, car-hire firms and other businesses have moved online. Dedicated internet travel agents like Expedia and Booking.com have emerged. Online peer-to-peer review sites offer a mostly honest assessment of hotels, restaurants and tourist sites. Airbnb and its competitors have created a new class of accommodation. The frictional costs of travel have fallen sharply.
Such is the stunning growth of tourism that the 72% decline in trips in the first ten months of 2020 on a year earlier merely took international travel back to where it was in 1990. Leisure travel accounts for the biggest slice but the rest contributes too. Business travellers stay in hotels, eat at restaurants and hire cars. Some visits to relatives or friends may be barely distinguishable from a holiday.
Not only are there more trips, but the world is a bigger oyster. In 1950 the top 15 destinations—with America, France, Italy and Spain the most visited—claimed 97% of tourist arrivals. By 2015 that share had dropped to just over half. Europe, with its historic cities, countryside and beaches, still rules, taking just over half of all international travellers. That is twice the share of the Asia-Pacific region, the next most popular area. Europe rakes in the most receipts, around 37% of the global total, worth some $619bn in 2019. France and Spain are the most popular countries for a visit. The top spots may not have changed, but their arrivals have. Chinese visits overseas have grown from just 9m trips in 1999 to 150m in 2018.
Travellers’ preference for richer countries has created large industries. Spain relied on domestic and foreign visitors for 11.8% of gdp in 2019, France 7.4% and Mexico 8.7%. Poorer countries lean even more on tourist dollars. America is the biggest country for travel spending, some $1.8trn in 2019, but overseas visitors have put tourism at the heart of many economies. In Aruba it accounts for nearly three-quarters of gdp; in most other small Caribbean islands it is also the main economic activity. Other poorer countries are less reliant overall but have vast tourist industries. Thailand welcomed around 10m foreign tourists in 2001. By 2019 it had grown fourfold (with a quarter of the total coming from China), bringing in 1.9trn baht ($60bn) and contributing some 18% of GDP.
The emptying of tourist trails and resorts resembling ghost towns is causing massive upheaval. UNCTAD estimated that losses could amount to 2.8% of world output if international arrivals dropped by 66% in 2020. The OECD now reckons that the drop was more like 80%. And the expectation is that international arrivals will probably not recover to pre-covid levels until 2023.
Tourism is a resilient industry. But it faces a downturn like no other. Firms reliant on visitors may not be best placed to survive. According to the WTCC, around 80% of tourist businesses worldwide, from hotels to restaurants to tour guides, are small businesses. Large hotel chains may have the balance-sheets to weather the storm or the management skills to reconfigure their business to cater more to domestic travellers. Small businesses probably lack the cash to invest in equipment for contactless payments or better cleaning and hygiene to reassure returning tourists.
The uncertain path to recovery raises questions over what will remain. The UNWTO reckons that countries with a big share of domestic tourism—America, China and India have the largest home markets—will recover more quickly. Travel restrictions have kept China’s high-rollers at home, giving its fanciest hotels their best year ever. But even domestic tourism is far from a saviour. Britain and Spain, for example, reckon on a decrease in domestic tourism of 45-50% in 2020.
These problems have prompted various responses to keep businesses alive. Some countries such as France, which launched an $18bn bail-out in May, have aimed cash directly at tourist businesses. Others are trying to reassure tourists that their countries are safe by developing protocols and guidelines for tourism workers. Luís Araújo, president of the Portuguese National Tourism Authority, says his organisation has arranged training for 60,000 workers at restaurants, hotels and travel agents to create a safer travel experience. Finland and Greece are among countries with new training programmes aimed at improving the digital presence of tourist businesses.
Some parts of the tourist economy will do better than others. Travel firms have noted a rising preference for self-catering and private accommodation over hotels. Coastal and rural locations, far from crowds, will recover faster than cities. Cyril Ranque of Expedia notes that his customers are more inclined to drive to domestic locations but then to stay longer than before. But these trends, he believes, are “all temporary”.
Waiting for the rebound
The travel bug seems certain to outlast the virus. Its first manifestation may be “revenge tourism” as people get away after a year of lockdowns and quarantines. But some things will change for good. A preoccupation in previous centuries, health and hygiene will re-emerge as central to holiday planning. Guidebooks from Baedeker, a German publisher, were never reticent about warning travellers of the filth they faced in foreign climes even in the early 20th century, bemoaning the “evil sanitary reputation of Naples”. Destinations will continue to boast of their scenery, cuisine and beaches but safety and hygiene will become as important, says Ian Yeoman, a tourism academic at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. This may benefit longer-established destinations, tilting visitors away from poorer countries.
Those countries will not be deliberately trying to avoid tourists, even so. Some remote places have used the hiatus to build a better online presence, says Mr. Ranque. He points to other innovations to make travel less of a bother. Flexibility, to cope with last-minute changes of plans, will endure. Late or even last-minute bookings are more common. Josh Belkin of Hotels.com reports that, because people are taking more staycations and travelling by car rather than plane, they are booking hotels later, on average 13 days before a trip rather than the 20 before covid-19.
Many travel companies and airlines have introduced more flexible rebooking policies. Faced by a wave of cancellations as covid-19 took hold, Expedia introduced “one-click cancellation” to deal with all elements from flights and hotels to car hire. Firms that use its platform can deploy new tools to add special offers to listings to encourage last-minute bookers and manage refunds. Gathering real-time data on searches, and sharing them with businesses that relied on information from previous years to set prices, could also lead to a better match between supply and demand and encourage more dynamic pricing. In future, personalised customer data should allow travel firms to recommend holidays in a more focused way.
Covid-19 presents a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move towards more sustainable and resilient models of tourism development”, says the OECD. “Tourism was seen as unambiguously good 20 years ago...now it’s a double-edged sword,” says Paul Flatters of the Trajectory Partnership. Concerns about the impact of tourism on the environment predate the pandemic. But tourism also broadens awareness of different cultures and environmental issues and helps pay for wildlife conservation, as well as providing employment and economic development.
Many destinations failed to strike a balance between tourist numbers and local sensibilities. Venetians have long protested against vast cruise ships, prompting some firms to drop the city from their itineraries. Venice also plans to impose a levy on all visitors from 2022. Anti-tourist slogans daubed on walls have greeted visitors to Barcelona, which has clamped down on illegal holiday letting (as have Berlin and other places in which holiday lets have replaced rental properties, forcing up prices for residents). Amsterdam is considering a ban on non-residents buying cannabis in its notorious coffee shops, to encourage a better class of tourist. Machu Picchu, where trails were overrun, imposed a pre-covid limit of 5,000 visitors a day. That will be cut to 675 to ensure social distancing.
Covid-19 offers the chance not only to reset tourism to reduce the numbers who spend the least but also to spread them out. Barcelona has run a campaign to encourage people to venture away from the old city. Thailand has a scheme to promote 55 less visited parts of the country. Concentrating on attracting fewer tourists ready to spend more is one way to promote a healthier business. And sustainability may become a more important guide to choices as awareness of climate change and the less welcome effects of tourism grow. Getting the right balance between economic, environmental and social benefits and costs has seen a new emphasis on sustainability. Mexico thinks covid-19 will help with its “Mexico Reborn Sustainable” campaign, which aims in part to create new routes that spread tourist dollars more widely and promote destinations that tap into fast-growing nature tourism.
A dynamic tourism economy depends on the availability of a variety of services, from accommodation and good services to attractions, activities and events. Whether a critical mass of services will remain everywhere is less clear. Less choice and competition, if businesses go bust, may mean higher prices. The rapid growth of tourist economies in recent years suggests they can be rebuilt swiftly. But for all those governments that redesign their tourism strategies to keep down crowds and protect the environment, others may compete by racing to the bottom, using deep discounts to fill hotels and planes. Tourist numbers will recover and continue to grow either way. Greater efforts to manage them carefully should make for a better experience for everyone.■
For the full 16 page Expedia 2021 Travel Trends Report click here
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.