While we are still very much in the middle of a global crisis, there are millions of businesses around the world wondering when people will start travelling after coronavirus? To say the pandemic is crippling the global travel industry – and even local hospitality industries – would be an understatement.
It’s not just businesses who are interested in a possible revival of the travel sector. With people in quarantine all over the world, many are wondering if trips booked later this year will happen? Can they go on that weekend getaway? Should they cancel flights sooner, rather than later?
The true answer is that this crisis is moving so fast and in so many directions around the globe. Nobody really knows the answer.
The picture changes from day to day. So, when will people start travelling after coronavirus? We set out to find what the world’s leading industry experts and figures have to say on the subject.
Some Hard Facts:
At a very practical level, 55 global airlines have completely stopped flying. Work your way through the list in the link above. You’ll quickly appreciate that there isn’t going to be much airline activity until at least late May, or early June. That is of course, open to change. But if anything, many experts are predicting that aircraft could remain grounded for even longer.
— Airport Webcams (@AirportWebcams) March 26, 2020
Up to 75 million jobs could be lost worldwide in the travel sector. This is already happening with layoffs across multiple industries.
Airline CEOs have been saying that the crisis is worse than 9/11. Ryanair – who are one of the biggest carriers in the world – have said they won’t fly any flights in April or May. That tells you that a summer season in Europe will at worst be severely curtailed, and at best delayed to July or August. Many are predicting that the airlines will recover in Q4 with pent up demand driving passenger bookings.
The tourism industry could be on track for a $1 trillion loss in revenue. Again many are starting to think this could be conservative as the days go by.
Perhaps though the biggest damage will not be travel bans, but rather quite simply the fear of flying amidst coronavirus spread.
Will people really want to get back on airplanes with the news so bad?
Paul Frishkorn, 65, was described as a tireless advocate for the flight attendant corps who was spending time in the Philadelphia crew room. He died Monday. https://t.co/2UQen92Jw6
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) March 27, 2020
How Specific Countries are Faring from Coronavirus
The consensus is that the USA is going to be hardest hit worldwide. Analysts are speculating that the real economic and health effects won’t been seen until early April. Donald Trump wants the country back working by Easter, but with the like of Las Vegas, California and New York on lockdown for the foreseeable future, the months of late May/June look like the best case scenario for even a trickle of tourism to start again.
With huge gatherings like Mardi Gras now viewed as likely high-spreading grounds for the virus, large scale travel could be put off for longer.
New York’s hotel industry is getting hammered https://t.co/i2LnKRxRVS
— Bloomberg (@business) March 26, 2020
Some countries rely hugely on tourism, such as Thailand. They have completely closed their borders, so will effectively see zero dollars in tourism revenue. Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister says that the effects of Chinese travel bans will cost Thailand around 50 billion baht ($1.5 billion USD) in lost tourism revenue. This doesn’t take into account the global impact of loss of tourists from other countries.
Cancellations & Border Closures
Some countries will have to change their projections drastically, including Japan who have had to postpone the Olympics. The European football championships this summer were also meant to be a huge boom for the travel industry, but they have also been pushed by the wayside.
The virus started in China and they felt it hardest but there are signs their tourism industry is starting to kick into gear again. There are green shoots being seen, especially on domestic tourism within China. In an ironic twist, China also might suffer from international tourism arrival numbers, as they have been forced to close their borders to all new arrivals.
Tourism hot spot The Maldives could reopen to tourists from China, Japan and South Korea as early as April. There would be strict restrictions in place and tougher screening but without tourism some of these economies will have a huge struggle.
The Economic Impact of Coronavirus on Travel & Tourism
While people might dream of escape and travel, the financial reality might be very different. Australia are talking about putting their entire economy into hibernation for well over 6 months. That spells a grim picture for the tourism industry.
In America, esteemed economists like Krugman, Roubini, El-Erian warn that the record 3.3 million unemployment claims are ‘just the start’. A lot of people will still have money to travel. But, with vast unemployment, keeping food on the table will most likely be more important than taking a vacation.
EYE-POPPING STAT: Of the more than 1.5 million people who work in the state’s restaurant and hotel industry, only between 200,000 to 400,000 are still employed, estimates @CarolBDover of @FRLAnews #Caronavirus
— Chris Tisch (@christisch1) March 21, 2020
- Most major airlines will remain grounded for 1-2 months at the very minimum.
- There are some signs of “green shoots” in Asian travel, with domestic travel in China possibly showing a way forward post-virus for the rest of the world.
- Some of the world’s most visited countries like Spain, France, Italy, Thailand and Australia remain in the early stages of the virus outbreak. They are seeing zero tourism. It will take most, if not all, of 2020 to recover and kick start their industries.
- The European travel industry will likely suffer a summer of pain. At best, the tail-end of summer might see some domestic activity
- It is still too early to tell the future of travel, as the virus continues to intensify in the USA. Although aggressive attempts are being made to restart the economy, tourism will continue to suffer throughout 2020 and beyond.
With the situation changing by the day in countries around the world, even the projections above from the world’s leading experts could change. When will people start travelling after coronavirus? We hope soon. But, we also have to realise the sheer scale of this pandemic and the fact that many lives are still in danger.
For the vast majority of the world, travel will simply not be an option in 2020 – either physically or economically.