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Travel’s COVID-19 depression is likely to stay-“People will go bankrupt”



After a global pandemic ravaged the industry and hurt the economy that relies on tourism, the prospects for a travel rebound this year have dimmed, with travelers postponing plans due to vaccine delays and border restrictions.

Tourist destinations from Thailand to Iceland have been hoping that the Covid-1

9 vaccine will enable countries to reopen their borders and promote the much-needed recovery in 2021. Now, due to delays in certain places and the emergence of new strains of the vaccine, it seems more likely that international travel may be stagnant for many years.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization announced that 2020 is the worst year in the history of the tourism industry, with 1 billion fewer international tourists, and then said that the prospects for a rebound in 2021 have deteriorated. In October, 79% of the experts surveyed by the agency believed that a rebound in 2021 was possible. Only 50% said they believed in January, while about 41% believed that travel would not reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024 or later.

The Carnival CEO predicts that “if not all,” the cruise fleet will return this year

James Sowane, who owns a transportation company that caters to tourists in Fiji, held a staff meeting earlier this month and asked employees to start looking for other jobs. He recently took advantage of a government assistance program and brought back some laid-off workers, who are optimistic that the vaccine may trigger a travel rebound as early as April.

But now Mr. Suwanee thinks that the tourists will not return until next year, and he and his wife cannot afford to continue to pay their wages at their company Pacific Destinations Fiji. He borrowed money from the bank to retain some core employees.

Sovane said: “The most difficult thing is to look at them.” “You see their wives, their children and their husbands because we know them very well.”

According to estimates by the World Travel and Tourism Council, before the pandemic, travel, tourism, and related business activities accounted for 10% of the global economy and had one-tenth of the jobs. From the Pacific Islands to Macau to Greece, many places are even more dependent on tourism than tourism.

“People will go bankrupt,” said Rose Dowling, professor emeritus of tourism at Edith Cowan University in Australia. “If they can’t adapt, they won’t be able to survive, and they won’t have enough flexibility to survive another year.”

Winter view of Reykjavik from above in Iceland (iStock)

According to data from the travel analysis company ForwardKeys, as of February 1, the air tickets issued for international travel in the next six months accounted for 15.5% of the price of 2019, a decrease of about 2 percentage points compared with January 1. According to data from the data company Cirium, compared with February 2019, scheduled flights worldwide have dropped by nearly 50% this month, and some markets have dropped by about 90%.

According to a joint forecast by the hotel data company STR and the Tourism Economy Corporation, by 2023, hotel demand in the United States will not return to the level of 2019, and house prices will not fully recover until 2025. Tourism market research company Phocuswright estimates that by 2024, the total number of travel reservations in the United States (including hotels, air tickets and car rentals) is expected to remain below 2019 levels. It predicts that the recovery in Europe will be slower.

Charuta Fadnis, head of the Phocuswright research team, said: “Vaccines are expected to become a panacea.” According to recent estimates by UBS (UBS), according to the current vaccination rate, less than 20% of the world’s population is expected to be vaccinated this year. She said: “We hope that the government will be cautious when reopening the border.”

Hopefully, some destinations that are popular with domestic travelers hope that increasing the number of visits by locals will ease the blow. However, although this helped Europe last summer, it is not clear whether the government will relax the restrictions as it did last year, which contributed to the second serious pandemic on the continent.

Temporary changes in the industry may begin to become permanent. Airlines and cruise operators have sealed up planes and ships and laid off or disbanded thousands of people worldwide. Some hotels have closed to save cash until more customers come back. Workers are looking for new occupations.

In Angkor Wat, an ancient temple in Cambodia, Sam Sophia once organized up to 150 trips a month during peak season. Now Mr. Sophia, who lives with his wife and two sons, is unemployed.

Tourists visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok on May 24, 2014. (Reuters/Erik De Castro)

According to the ticket office of the website, the number of foreign tourists to Angkor Wat fell by 82% last year, and compared with January 2020, it was down by 99.5% last month. Mr. Sophia is considering buying a truck to transport the gravel road, although he plans to ride with his nephew first to see if it is too physically demanding.

Sophia said: “I feel a little sad and a little stressed.” “I hope the tourists will come back.”

In Spain, travel and tourism previously accounted for 14% of GDP, the highest proportion among developed countries, and the economy shrank by 11% last year, making it the country with the largest decline in the Eurozone. By 2020, the number of international arrivals has fallen by more than 75%. The government has injected billions of euros into the economy and protected jobs through vacation programs, but these efforts may soon be over.

Although the Bank of Spain expects the economy to grow by 6.8% this year, it predicts that the Spanish economy will not reach pre-pandemic levels until mid-2023, one year later than the entire Eurozone. A Spanish central bank official recently stated that Spain’s recovery will slow, partly because it will take time for the tourism industry to rebound.

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The travel industry hopes to speed up the recovery through so-called vaccine passports, including smartphone apps that travelers use to notify the government of their vaccination status, so they don’t need quarantine. Airlines and airports are testing various systems.

However, the government’s response was mixed. British officials ruled out vaccine passports within Europe, saying that it is not yet clear whether vaccines can effectively prevent the spread of the virus and whether it is discriminatory to allow people to travel based on vaccination status. However, Denmark’s goal is to issue one issue at the end of this month.

It is not clear when people will feel comfortable travelling again. Becky Wentland, a high school teacher in Southern California, does not plan to not fly domestically until her family is vaccinated. Before going abroad, she is waiting for the Covid-19 infection rate to drop sharply and paying close attention to strains that may be vaccine resistant.

If it were not for this virus, her family would travel to Europe this summer. Last year, they cancelled their trip to Japan. The trip to Peru was postponed until June this year, but it will almost certainly be postponed again.

Ms. Winterland said: “I like traveling, but losing those trips is not a sad thing for me.” “Traveling is definitely a luxury. I will never forget the sight before me.

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Some companies and countries are confident that pent-up demand will eventually lead to prosperity. It said Minor Hotels, which is headquartered in Thailand but operates hotels worldwide, continued to expand during the pandemic, adding hotels in Europe and opening new hotels in Dubai and Seychelles.

In Iceland, the authorities used the time when there were no foreign tourists to improve the country’s tourism infrastructure. A few months ago, Iceland completed a road in an inaccessible country in the north of the country that connected tourist attractions including waterfalls and the oldest settlements.

In the early days of the pandemic, Elias Gislason, Director of Quality and Development, Iceland Tourism Agency, believed that tourists would return in the late summer of last year. Now, he expects Iceland’s number of tourists this year will reach one-third of the normal number and will fully recover by 2023.

He said: “The truth is that no one knows for sure.” “It all depends on the method of vaccination.”


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