Across the globe, the virus is disrupting spring journey for thousands and thousands of individuals, based on Oklahoma Information
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – These are the annual trips of late winter and early spring: factory workers in China on their way home for the Lunar New Year; American college students go on road trips and hit the beach during the spring break. Germans and British flee from a dreary sky after the Mediterranean sun over Easter.
All of this was canceled when in doubt or under pressure due to the coronavirus.
Amid fears of new varieties of the virus, new restrictions on movement have made their way as people begin to look to the normally busy travel time of the year.
This means more pain for airlines, hotels, restaurants and destinations that have been struggling for more than a year after the pandemic, and slower recovery for countries where tourism is a big part of the economy.
Colleges in the United States canceled the spring break to deter students from traveling. After Indiana University in Bloomington replaced their usual break with three “wellness days”, student Jacki Sylvester gave up her plans to celebrate her 21st birthday in Las Vegas.
Instead, it will mark the milestone closer to home, with a day at the casino in French Lick, Indiana just 50 miles away.
“I was really looking forward to getting out of here for a full week. I wanted to be able to have a drink and have fun – see the casinos and everything – and honestly see another city and just travel a little, ”she said.
“At least we’ll have some fun for a day in a compressed version of our original Vegas plans. I’ll still be able to party. … I’m just forced to make it closer to home.”
There are no signs of the annual New Year rush at bus and train stations in China. The government has urged the public to avoid traveling after new coronavirus outbreaks. Only five out of 15 security gates at Beijing’s cavernous main train station were open. The amount of travelers who usually camp outside in the spacious square was missing.
The holiday, which begins on February 12th, is usually the world’s largest human movement as hundreds of millions of Chinese people leave cities to visit their hometowns, tourist attractions, or travel abroad. For millions of migrant workers, this is usually the only way to visit their hometowns during the year. This year the authorities are promising additional wages if they stay there.
The government says people will make 1.7 billion trips during the vacation, but that’s 40% less than 2019. According to travel associations, flights from Beijing and Chengdu in the southwest are expected to decrease by 75%.
Each news cycle seems to have new limitations. US President Joe Biden has reintroduced restrictions on travelers from more than two dozen European countries, South Africa and Brazil, while those leaving the US are required to present a negative test before returning.
Canada banned flights to the Caribbean. Israel closed its main international airport. Entry into the European Union is severely restricted, with entry bans and quarantine requirements for returning citizens.
For air travel, “the near-term outlook has definitely darkened,” said Brian Pearce, chief economist for the International Air Transport Association. Governments have poured $ 200 billion into supporting industry.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, international arrivals declined 74% last year, wiping out $ 1.3 trillion in revenue and putting up to 120 million jobs at risk. A UNWTO panel of experts had mixed prospects for 2021: 45% expected a better year, 25% no change and 30% a worse one.
“The general outlook for a recovery in 2021 appears to have worsened,” the organization said.
In Europe, delayed vaccine launches and the proliferation of the new variants are clouding the prospects.
That means, “there is a growing risk that another tourist summer season will be lost,” said Jack Allen-Reynolds of Capital Economics. “That would put a massive strain on the Greek economy and significantly delay the recovery in Spain and Portugal.”
The travel company TUI offers package tours in the sun in Greece and Spain, but with extensive cancellation policies to attract cautious customers. Places that are accessible by car, like the German North Sea islands and the Alps, benefit to some extent because they offer the opportunity to isolate yourself. According to the German Holiday House Association, 60% of the popular locations are already booked for July and August.
Thailand, where around a tenth of the population depends on tourism for their livelihood, requires a two-week quarantine for foreigners in designated hotels from USD 1,000. So far, only a few dozen people choose to visit each day. Tourist arrivals in Thailand fell below 7 million in 2020 and are projected to reach just 10 million this year, up from 40 million in 2019.
The Indonesian holiday island of Bali has deported dozens of foreigners and started restricting foreign arrivals on January 1 as the number of coronavirus cases exceeded 1 million.
Gerasimos Bakogiannis, owner of the Portes Palace Hotel in Potidaia in Greece’s northern Halkidiki region, said it won’t even open for Western Easter on April 4th, but will wait a month for Greek Orthodox Easter on May 2nd – and he hopes , the beginning of a better summer.
“If this year is like last year, tourism will be destroyed,” he said.
McDonald contributed from Beijing and Smith from Indianapolis. Elaine Kurtenbach contributed from Bangkok and Costas Kantouris from Thessaloniki, Greece.
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