8 Ways Tourism Will Change As Lockdowns Are Lifted

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.

  1. 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.)

  2. 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.)

  3. 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?”

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I was just watching a documentary about Japan’s coronavirus state of emergency. In Tokyo, almost all customers to restaurants and bars have disappeared. Moreover, many in the hospitality industry had taken out loans to upgrade due to the Tokyo Olympics, which have been delayed. They had expected a large influx of foreign bookings. Those bookings have been cancelled. Plus, Japanese bookings have disappeared. The streets are empty. The owners of these businesses that were interviewed painted a real dire picture. Not sure if I have a point. It just seems sad.

  2. My husband and I typically travel 3 months at a time (just with backpacks). We usually travel to lesser-visited countries (Cambodia, etc.). Nowadays I’m tempted to travel to countries that did the best to control Covid and actually have treatment if you do fall ill.

  3. Gary, any guesses as to when Canada will release restrictions for travel from the US?

  4. After the devistation that has been done to the economy from the government’s actions, we will be lucky if we are recovered by the first quarter of 2021.

    Just because states or countries are open by no means are people going to travel there.

    The government has successfully scared 75% of the population into thinking they go outsude there going to die, that alone will take 6 months to fix. Travel like before atleast a year.

  5. @Jeff – The government? Seriously? Its the media and politicians in states like CA and MI. We might as well not drive cars since that kills over 30k Americans every year.

  6. @Kami – Who else besides South Korea who has a small population allowing everyone in that population to be tracked with its technology infrastructure? Nobody was prepared for this. Even Singapore has had a second wave.

  7. Item #2 sounds misleading at best and irresponsible regardless.

    “Defeating the virus” does not happen without a medical breakthrough. That would only happen with a vaccine, two years in coming at best, possibly never. Given the current state of science, there are only mitigation and containment strategies.

  8. BB, It’s people like you who don’t care about the suffering of those who died and of their families. Talking about care accidents? You are really cruel. People like you are dangerous. But then again, you and Trump know so much more then the medical experts because you are so damn smart..

  9. These are all speculations and nobody really knows what will happen
    Not everybody will behave like a sheep
    If I could travel today I would and would not do anything different than before
    Not everybody will come out of this brainwashed

  10. Gary – You, of all people, shouldn’t be lazy and use the word “direct” in #7 for flights. I’m sure you know that there is a difference between non-stop (which I’m sure you mean) and direct but just in case you or someone else on here doesn’t”

    Non-stop is a flight from point A to point B with no stop between. Direct is a flight from point A to point B with one or more stops but that keeps the same flight number all the way from point A to point B (some airlines may consider a non-stop flight to also be direct but the historical definition included one or more stops).

    Please try to use the correct terminology in the future.

    BTW – you are really speculating here. No one knows what will happen this fall, let along a year from now. It isn’t just virus or herd immunity – there may also be significant treatments. Also, everyone is worried about the virus like it is the boogey man. You do know that, while anyone can get it, statistics for Italy and NYC showed over 99% that died were either over 70 or had significant co-morbidities. Also, as estimated 25% of those that have died were in nursing homes or similar such institutions (up to 50% in some states). Bottom line the virus isn’t nearly as deadly or a threat to the vast majority as was thought a month ago. That, along with enhanced treatments, will help open up travel. Also, you totally disregard the economic impact, especially in Europe, of the travel bans and you can expect those to open up in some places this summer, even if there is a health threat, because the economic risk is deemed worse that the health risk. That assessment is already underway in many European countries.

  11. @ Jeff Campbell says:
    May 2, 2020 at 10:59 am
    After the devistation that has been done to the economy from the government’s actions,

    By “Government” that would be the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) , and, their puppet, The W.H.O.,

  12. Hey BB,
    Let me help you out here- if someone is injured in a car accident, they CANNOT infect you with “automobile accident injury” by breathing on you. If someone is infected with Coronavirus, they CAN infect you just by breathing on you.
    Hope your meager intellect is able to absorb this distinction. In any event, I hope anyone tempted to believe your silly POV ignores you.

  13. @Bill Deyer
    Your point is irrelevant
    Statistic points that getting in a car is far more dangerous, the infection rate is not relevant, yet most people will get in a car but think it is unsafe to fly or ride a train
    That is the sheep mentality

  14. This is all speculation. The market will decide, underscored by regulations imposed by the governing agencies. Everything else is a look in your crystal ball.

  15. As others have said, this is all speculation. A good treatment would make a big difference and could be on its way; the best scientific minds are working on the vaccine; and people will realize they can protect themselves and others well, even if not perfectly, by frequent hand washing, wearing a mask when close to other people, and not touching their face until after they wash their hands. Airlines and hotels are already stepping up their game significantly with respect to cleanliness and know they need to. I think travel will pick up, and it will be safe to do so, sooner than the gloom and doom purveyors in the media, government, and comment sections of blogs would think. My next scheduled trip is July, and I do anticipate it will be canceled, but I’m hopeful for September.

  16. I am in the age group, although with no nasty underlying conditions, which AC is quite prepared to write off in favour of the ‘economy’. Not sure what your parents or grandparents think of that notion, but I would encourage them to revise their wills to specifically exclude you in the most water-tight legal way possible, and leave their estate to charities of their choosing.
    Let’s see how you and your precious economy enjoy that!
    Oh, and if you are American as I expect you are, a peek under the hood of the economy, coronavirus notwithstanding, will reveal that even before this it was practically on life support.
    So maybe you are backing the wrong horse! Oops!

  17. For me the biggest temptation is to visit some of the heavily over-touristed places shortly after they open to get a perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit them while they are not crowded.

  18. The heard immunity is a sad hoax. Anyone who has been to Italy or reads global news knows just how dangerous this virus is at destroying health care systems besides just killing millions of people. And you need 90% infected.

    The U.S. is on the path of killing 500,000 people by the end of this year. Unless it gets serious (and everything points the other way), expect it to become a pariah. Countries who have managed to control the virus will start opening travel with each other at the exclusion of countries that are still infected.

    The US. Federal Government exceptionally chaotic and bad handling of the situation will continue to be a liability. Hawaii will be open, but to Asians from countries where the infection is under control. Similarly for the Caribbean, who might be open to Canadians but not Americans. Which Government leader will want to have to pay for cleaning up after being reinfected? Will the U.S. pay that bill, when it doesn’t even pay the WHO one?

    Google “COVID-19 Singapore” to see what happens when you let in people from infected countries.

  19. You asked the question, where do you want to go? I want to drive 4 hours to see my grand children, period! I don’t care about anywhere else. And, FYI: I’ve been working throughout this crisis and am one of many responsible for wiping down commonly touched surfaces in the office on a regular basis. I can tell you it gets boring. We do it but it isn’t fun and we’re only a small office. I find it hard to believe restaurants and movie theaters are going to be able to do the same for very long.

  20. I think the initial tourism is going to only be domestic. International travel is only going to work between low-outbreak to low-outbreak. China, Hong Kong and South Korea have already agreed on resuming airlinks; I expect Taiwan to join soon, followed by Singapore once we get the foreign worker outbreak under control.

    @Jake- the Singapore outbreak was not related to international travellers, but imported foreign workers. There is little/no Corona virus in the general population- 6-10 cases a day.

    Hawaii? It’s between a rock and a hard place. Either continue to experience massive unemployment, or open back up for domestic travel. There is no way that tourists from Asia will resume, because there will inevitably be a 15 day quarantine upon return.

    Maybe in the fall airlinks will open up for infected to infected routes- US – UK – Europe. But that is only if there isn’t a massive second wave in some of these countries, which is looking increasingly unlikely.

    I just booked tickets on SQ SIN-EWR for Sept, but am budgeting 2 weeks Stay At Home quarantine for when I return… I hope I can take the flight, but made sure my tickets were refundable just in case.

  21. “Expect to be able to travel to poorer countries, and those may actually be safer” Or you may be much more likely to die in those countries due to inadequate medical care or end up in quarantine on a return home. We don’t have the data to even show that having the virus will make you immune or how long the immunity will last if you do get some. Poorer countries that rely on tourism are much more likely to have governments that either are not able to identify outbreaks or intentionally hide the number of cases because they want the tourist money coming in. Either way its foolish for people to travel to countries that do not have adequate medical systems in the midst of a pandemic.

  22. @ George “the Singapore outbreak was not related to international travellers, but imported foreign workers. There is little/no Corona virus in the general population- 6-10 cases a day.”

    This is a little bit of a misnomer. The “migrant” workers to whom you refer were Singapore residents, the vast majority of whom had traveled nowhere in recent months. So to the extent that the virus spread among these groups, it was because of the high density of their living conditions.

    Their immigrant status is completely irrelevant, and so the notion that they can be excluded from the “general population” is like excluding Asian Americans or train drivers or pilots or flight attendants or any other group in the USA. The reality is that Singapore’s spread is indeed among the general population, even (especially!) after the borders were closed.

  23. @George~ from the perspective of someone from outside the US bubble, I can see, and hope for, anyone who has been in the US within 14 days will be either denied entry or allowed entry followed by a 14 day supervised compulsory quarantine period. This is the case in Australia right now. My state, South Australia, is on the verge of being declared 100% coronavirus-free, with no new cases reported for 13 days, and only 7 hospital patients in recovery.
    Our borders are basically closed to other states not doing so well.
    Restrictions have been fair and reasonable with no public unrest and protests, unlike the American morons we see on TV protesting with humungous guns about their supposed FREEDOMS! (itself an illusion; your Government knows more about you than the person you sleep with!)
    Yep, the world is building a virtual wall around the US of A right now to keep you in. That’s what happens when you allow infants and incompetents to be in charge!

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