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How COVID-19 Changed Travel

Travel changed when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world. Borders around countries closed first. And then the borders around states closed as well. Then, the next thing we knew, we couldn’t venture out to other cities. The traveler inside of us felt stuck. Travel by plane, ship, and trains was discouraged. We had to stay put to remain safe from the disease.

Health safety took precedence over everything else. But the quarantine restrictions didn’t affect those who loved to travel leisurely. It also affected those who traveled for a living. Journalists, travel guides, and flight attendants lost their jobs. 

The COVID-19 pandemic changed how we travel. It’ll take a long time before people could go back to being avid travelers. But when they do go back to traveling, here’s how everything changed.

COVID-19’s Impact on the Tourism Industry

People who work in the tourism industry took a big hit when the pandemic happened. They total to about 16.9 million. Almost half of these jobs were lost back in March and April. Since the slow easing of the quarantine restrictions, some jobs were recovered. But some were lost for good. 

Unfortunately, the hardships don’t stop there. Studies found by Tourism Economics show that 50% of all jobs that require travel will be lost by December if they don’t get immediate aid soon. This adds about 1.3 million more job losses. With all the losses, researchers predict that the tourism industry may not recover until 2023.

But despite these challenges, the tourism industry has been making progress. It’s slow, but at least it’s starting. Studies found some trends now that the economy is recovering. Although air travel bookings were still low, road travel has been more or less stable. But with the holidays approaching, they also found that about 25% of U.S. citizens will forgo traveling this year. But there are still some who decided to travel. In the interest of health safety, though, thirty-five percent of them planned to test themselves before traveling.

These are some trends right now. But travel will significantly change in the future. Here are some ways how.

Increased Interest in Car Travel

Road trips are the safest and most feasible way of traveling. You won’t have to go through safety protocols and tests for COVID-19 symptoms. You won’t have to be near strangers in closed quarters. And you definitely don’t have to worry about occupying public spaces. In fact, data from MMGY Travel Intelligence show that 45% of respondents surveyed said that they would prefer to travel by car for now. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that more people are investing in cars now, and companies that ship vehicles all over the country are getting busier. 

Strict Health Protocols

Even though a significant rate of people prefers to travel by car now, some need to travel by other means. They have no choice but to travel by plane or train. As such, they have to go through strict measures such as checking for COVID-19 symptoms and sharing some information about their medical histories. Airline companies, in particular, took drastic measures. Airplane trips would take significantly fewer passengers. Middle seats are blocked off. They even had to reconsider some of their features, such as baggage carousels.

Less Crowd in Tourist Spots

Museums and other tourist spots would limit the number of people that could enter their spaces. Gone are days when a large group of people would jostle each other’s shoulders to get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. Even public spaces such as Times Square won’t be as crowded anymore. Traffic enforcers would be there to disperse the crowd so that social distancing protocols are still being practiced.

Some of us are born with an adventurous streak. When we were babies, we would crawl all over the house, eager to discover various places. When we grew up, our eagerness translated to our love for travel. It didn’t matter that it cost us a ton of money. It’s all worth it anyway. Without traveling, we won’t get to experience the real beauty of the world. We won’t experience other cultures. We won’t get to meet interesting people, learn about their lives, and enjoy food with them.

But the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. We are more careful now in the travel decisions we make. Spur-of-the-moment trips are a thing of the past. Now, if we want to travel, we have to plan it carefully. We have to make sure that we and the people in the places we’ll visit are safe from the disease. 

These are small sacrifices, though. What truly matters is that we remain healthy and that the tourism industry recovers.

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