I’ve mostly written about how coronavirus will change travel. Tyler Cowen writes about how it will change tourism – where we go, who will go, and what they’ll do while there.
As spread of the new coronavirus comes under control, medical capacity expands, and treatments improve, lock downs will lift and tourism will begin to re-start. This will not wait for a vaccine.
- Domestic travel will restart first. And car trips will come before plane trips, that includes driving longer distances that people used to fly. (That in itself is dangerous.)
- Places that have defeated the virus will be most reluctant to allow in visitors, fearing that tourists will bring the virus back. (This is true even if people are required to be tested for COVID-19 in order to enter, as the tests have both false positives and negatives.)
- Some destinations my place quotas on visitors, and scarcity will drive tourism.
Many tourists will rush there, either occasioning a counterreaction — that is, reducing the destination’s appeal — or filling the quota very rapidly. Then everyone will resume their search for the next open spot, whether it’s Nova Scotia or Iceland. Tourists will compete for status by asking, “Did you get in before the door shut?”
- Expect to be able to travel to poorer countries, and those may actually be safer.
Some of the world’s poorer countries might pursue a “herd immunity” strategy, not intentionally, but because their public health institutions are too weak to mount an effective response to Covid-19. A year and a half from now, some of those countries likely will be open to tourism. They won’t be able to prove they are safe, but they might be fine nonetheless. They will attract the kind of risk-seeking tourist who, pre-Covid 19, might have gone to Mali or the more exotic parts of India.
- Expect access to the Caribbean. And with limited places to go, those places may be swamped driving up travel costs and creating crowds which themselves will entail risk.
- While airfare and hotel rates may fall due to lower travel demand, some destinations may impose fees. If a country’s willingness to let in visitors is limited, and below demand, they can raise revenue this way – and there may be a correlation between people willing and able to pay more and who have been able to socially distance and obtain good medical care and so could be less of a risk. This seems one of the most speculative of his claims.
- Direct flights will be at a premium, with tourists favoring destinations that do not require a connection. With reduced flying there will be fewer of those places.
[P]assengers will appreciate the certainty that comes from knowing they are approved to enter the country of their final destination and don’t have to worry about transfers, delays or cancellations. That will favor London, Paris, Toronto, Rome and other well-connected cities with lots to see and do.
- People will make fewer multi-city trips, avoiding the train, though there may be more of an incentive to drive between cities of Europe than many would have been willing to do in the past.
How do you see choice of destination changing as travel begins to open up from coronavirus lockdowns?