What Coronavirus Means for the Future of Traveling
With numerous new rules intact and various questions raised all over the world, it can be challenging to stay on top of everything. So, let's see if we can find an answer to our first question: What is the travel situation right now?
As Hunter (2020) from CNN describes, Europe has already banned all non-essential travels and the U.S. has raised its travel warning to Level 4, asking all of the citizens not to go abroad. As all these travel bans differ from nation to nation, or even state to state, the advice is: if you are still planning on travelling, by car for instance, you should check if you may be prohibited from entering your destination country/state (Hunter 2020).
The way this looks right now makes it pretty clear that we are probably not going to be able to travel as carefree as we did before for a little while. The fact that so many people are staying at home at the moment has a huge impact on the tourism and the hotel industry of many countries. All of these travel restrictions and the uncertainty of how the virus will "act" in the future way heavily on the tourism of various nations. A crucial part of tourism and travelling are hotels and other accommodations. In the U.S., as Barro (2020) from the Intelligencer explains, only high-profile hotels like the Marriott decided to close, while economy hotels lost less business and remain open for now. The reason for that could be that those who are not on vacation, like truckers or people in self-quarantine, are very likely to book a room in a cheaper accommodation (Barro 2020).
It seems like many hotels are closing down as there are not enough travelers seeking a room. This major lack of travels around the world does not only have an impact on the hotel industry but also certain airlines. According to Frost (2020), Irish Ryanair manager Michael O'Leary says he wants his airplanes to keep flying and wants to follow in the footsteps of Asian airlines, where passengers have to wear masks and get their temperature taken at the airport (Frost 2020). Although this may sound like a silver lining for all travel lovers, the way it is right now it's still not recommended at all and, in many cases, you are not even allowed to leave your own country. But does this mean we can't travel this summer? Not necessarily!
Now the main question is: What will the situation be in the summer? Will travel bans be lifted and can we fly to other countries? What already seems quite clear, is the seriousness of this virus, the way it spreads and that no one can tell if the curve will go back up once the borders are reopened. From what we have seen so far, travel bans will not be lifted for a little while. But this doesn't mean the end for travelling! Many of us have lived in one and the same country for decades without ever taking a second look at it. Is this the chance to see your own country with the eyes of a traveler?
The opinions on short distance travelling differ from nation to nation and strict bans might be relaxed before the summer. Therefore, rules are constantly changing. When it comes to traveling the U.S by car, for instance, Palmer (2020) mentions that it is highly dependent on the state you live in and what state you want to travel to, whether you are allowed to drive across your state border or not (Palmer 2020: 3). But this too could change before the summer; what seems to be the most important part when planning a trip this year is: keep checking the news. According to EU commissioner Breton, some European countries, in which the virus outbreak has taken a similar turn, might open the borders in summer. But this is still debated and the EU commissioner says that this is highly dependent on the health situation in the following months (Schengenvisainfo 2020). So, authorities still highly recommend staying in your own country.
So how about this year, as the world stands still and nothing is for certain, we simply travel our own country/state. Driving to the nearest lake or mountain and taking a vacation at home might just be a perfect trip as well. So, keep checking the news and start checking out what has always been right in front of you. You might just find some hidden places right under your nose!
- Barro, Josh. Luxury Hotels are nearly empty. Budget Hotels still have customers. Intelligencer. 23.4.2020.
- Hunter, Marnie. Travel and the coronavirus pandemic: everything you need to know. CNN. 20.4.2020.
- Frost, Laurence. Ryanair boss rejects removing middle seats to slow virus. 24.4.2020.
- Palmer, Emily. With the coronavirus restrictions, can I travel by car? The New York Times. 19.4.2020.