When can we go on trip once more?

(CNN) – After reaching an all-time high in January 2021, the global coronavirus case numbers are starting to decline.

Vaccinations are currently being rolled out around the world, but when it comes to recreation from vacation travel, we are far from getting out of the woods.

While travel experts are optimistic that things are slowly opening up again this year, it depends on where you are, where you want to travel, and whether the virus and its mutant strains can be brought under control.

With so much uncertainty, in most parts of the world it is still advisable to stay safe and stay home.

However, there is no danger of looking to the future. We asked experts to consider when the world can go on vacation again and when, if at all, travel will return to normal.

When can I fly long haul?

“There are a few destinations currently where travelers can still book long-haul flights if they want,” said Bryce Conway, travel award expert and founder of 10xTravel. “For example, there are flights for US passengers to destinations like Albania and many parts of the Caribbean. However, I do not expect the volume of long-haul routes to increase to pre-Covid-19 levels by 2022.”

Alexis Barnekow, founder and CEO of the booking app Chatflights, agrees. “With a few exceptions, almost everything can still be booked,” he says. “New Zealand / Australia is more difficult to book as airlines like Qantas have severely reduced their inventory levels.

“Two other airlines that have less bookable inventory are Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines (although this is more the case for financial reasons).

“Basically, all other airlines are trying to keep supply at the same level as before in order to maintain their cash flow. You can book, but the risk of flight cancellations and rescheduling is far greater. That way, airlines can continue to sell inventory and cash in their books, and as the travel dates approach, use rescheduling to try to fill some planes and keep others on the ground. “

The rules for entry vary, of course, from destination to destination and also according to the country of departure. Dubai, for example, is one of the most open travel destinations in the world while New Zealand is one of the most closed.

New Zealand: Don’t expect a vacation there anytime soon.

Colin Monteath / old photo stick

Travelers should check the regulations at the time of booking and again prior to departure and not take unnecessary trips if doing so is contrary to the official instructions.

When it comes to making long-haul vacation travel more optimistic and recommendable, we’ll speak at the end of 2021.

Australian airline Qantas, one of the biggest players in the aviation industry, announced last week that it plans to resume international flights – on a reduced scale – by the end of October.

On the other side of the world, the UK government, which has had the highest Covid death rate in Europe, has announced that it will lift its restrictions on international travel in May at the earliest.

“The lockdown is probably more severe than ever, especially in Europe, the US, etc.,” said Chris Goater, director of corporate communications at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global aviation trade organization. “We hope there is light at the end of the tunnel,” although “we expect the long haul to be the last thing that recovers.”

Linking distant markets carries the risk of exposure to potential new variants that governments are understandably cautious about, Goater says. “A lot of business trips are long-term and it can take some time to recover as companies take care of their money,” he adds.

What about “travel bubbles” and short haul trips?

The IATA goater is more optimistic about the revival of short haul flying. Governments will “face more pressure to relax quarantine restrictions on travel to a neighbor than to a long-haul destination, he says. In Europe,” you can imagine that we could get some kind of EU-wide deal that allows them to do borders to open when pandemic infections are low, come the summer. “

Ohio-based Conway says, “Short-haul flights will recover quickly, with most resuming in the fall of 2021. While there are destinations that accept US travelers – some with a negative Covid test – I don’t expect many travel bubbles to open for US -Travellers until the pandemic is under control. “

Stockholm-based Barnekow says: “‘Travel bubbles don’t seem to have materialized. Britain had one with Dubai this summer, but we haven’t heard other examples that have worked. Rumors have been around for Hong Kong / Singapore and Australia / New Zealand , but they didn’t happen. We get the impression they don’t because it’s just too complex to keep track of. “

Dubai had a spike in cases in January 2021, but the numbers are now falling.

Dubai had a spike in cases in January 2021, but the numbers are now falling.

KARIM SAHIB / AFP via Getty Images

Can I travel domestically?

“Some parts of the world, such as China, India and Russia, have made a very strong recovery over the past year, in some cases back to pre-pandemic levels,” said IATA’s Goater. Based on this evidence, he is optimistic that domestic travel will recover quickly once restrictions relax. “When the lockdown isn’t so severe, the demand for domestic travel increases.”

Says Conway, “Domestic travel has already started to recover rapidly, and we will see that trend continue as vaccines become widely available to the public. We are seeing great demand for travel to US destinations in California.” , Florida and Nevada for summer travel. As of now, there appear to be no additional travel restrictions on domestic travel with the new administration. “

James Turner, CEO of global travel service 360 ​​Private Travel, says that for his company’s Singapore and Hong Kong offices, domestic “stays” will be “a large part of their future business.” In the UK, stays last summer were popular, but “this year most of our customers really want to leave”.

Can i go on a road trip?

“Road trips have become incredibly popular over the past year because they seem like the safest form of travel during a pandemic,” says Conway of the United States. “There is an extremely low risk of Covid-19 exposure when you go on a road trip and stay in an AirBnB with people who live in the same household or in a hotel that follows appropriate safety protocols.”

What about cruise?

“Cruises are by far the hardest hit segment of travel, and it will be some time before cruising gets back to normal, if at all,” says Conway. “The cruise industry has dropped the ball by trying to come back too quickly and it has lost a lot of public trust as a result. People will likely be more health conscious in a post-Covid-19 world, and I assume they will will be like that too. ” cause irreparable damage to the cruise industry. “

Turner from 360 Private Travel is more optimistic. “I think certain types of cruises will be one of the first to recover, contrary to what some people might think.” Boutique-style experiences on small ships with strict entry requirements and carefully tailored itineraries will appeal to customers “because the environment is more controlled”.

Is it safe to stay in a hotel or Airbnb?

Turner said his company’s Hong Kong office has seen a trend in customers choosing “the more established brand names” stays. Travelers feel happier in accommodations where they can rely on the hotel’s strict guidelines for temperature checks, health declarations, wearing masks, logging visits via QR code, etc. “Trust is very important.”

However, as Conway points out, Airbnbs, vacation rentals, and other options are fine, “provided you don’t share accommodation with people who aren’t traveling with you or who aren’t in your household.”

Does it matter if I am vaccinated?

Dr. Leana Wen explains why caution should be exercised even if you have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Not yet, but it will,” Conway predicts. “This is going to be one of the biggest problems facing the travel industry for the next 12 to 24 months.”

“Vaccination passes,” which could impose travel restrictions on anyone who is not vaccinated, is one of the hottest topics in the travel industry right now.

Some destinations – including the Seychelles, Cyprus and Poland – have already lifted quarantine requirements for visitors who can prove they are vaccinated.

However, fears remain about what protective vaccines actually offer, how vaccination documents could be misused, and what this means for those who are still waiting for their puffs or are unable or unwilling to receive them. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not support the concept of the “vaccination pass”.

“We are awaiting a version of vaccine evidence to re-enter society (think on a flight, go to a concert, dine in a restaurant),” said Roderick Jones, chairman of the board of the San Francisco-based risk consultancy Concentric Advisors. “While the vaccine may never become ‘mandatory’, it can become too detrimental not to have it.”

Will travel ever go back to normal?

“Absolutely,” says Conway. “I expect a huge spike in travel costs in late 2021 as vaccines become widely available. There will be some issues as the travel industry recovers and figures out how to approach the long-term strategy to fight Covid-19. Overall, I expect that things will return to a relatively normal state by mid-2022. “

“We believe that business travel will be less than before, especially for employees in large companies,” says Barnekow. “Big companies have many reasons other than Covid for letting fewer people travel: environmental reasons, costs and morals. While nothing is better than face-to-face ‘IRL’ meetings, the pandemic has shown that many problems can be solved by other means of communication. But I still think it will be almost back to what it was before. If I had to guess, I’d say business travel will have a 10% long-term reduction. “

When it comes to vacation travel, Barnekow anticipates that “there will be a boost in the short term, and then we’ll see the same levels as before. We’ve never had as much traffic with the app as now; it seems that people are really changing.” long for it. ” Book trips. Ninety percent of what we sell now is for departure after the summer. So people seem to think that by then it will be safe to fly. “

Turner agrees and points to the great interest shown by customers. “We have evidence that there is a lot of pent-up demand; people want to go.” His customers think long-term and dream big. There is a trend towards people interested in booking longer luxury trips with carefully crafted itineraries. Turner says, “2022, even 2023 – they want to book these now.”

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