Experts Say It Could Be 18 to 24 Months Before Travel Picks Back Up

As we near month two since the coronavirus outbreak was officially declared a pandemic, workers in the travel industry would like nothing more than for the world to return to normal.

They may have to wait a while, however. CNBC has reached out to experts in the public health and tourism industries for an estimate on when travel will resume for its series “The Next Normal.” In its segment, CNBC outlines the challenges the travel industry will face even after the pandemic diminishes.

Experts agree that it may take around 18 to 24 months before airlines see a substantial increase in demand. While there are a recorded number of people willing to travel once the pandemic recedes, there will still be many people who will remain cautious. Airlines and airports are already trying to reassure travelers by implementing new kinds of security checks to screen travelers who are sick.

Delta has been exploring ways to get people traveling again while reducing exposure, such as issuing “immunity passports.” Airports have been checking the temperatures of all passengers, and many airlines are now requiring crew members and passengers to wear protective masks.

Ultimately, however, these solutions are not completely foolproof, and many will still refuse to travel until a proven treatment or vaccine can be found or senior health officials and scientists, not just airlines and travel experts, confirm that air travel no longer poses a risk.

“Many people are not going to feel safe going back to crowded airplanes … until they see that the number of new deaths from the virus has gone down to almost none in their region, or until there is a vaccine or much better ways of tracing and isolating who has it,” said Robert Reich, the former U.S. Labor secretary and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Additionally, the pandemic has caused mass furloughs around the world; many people may not want to travel after the industry resumes simply because they cannot afford to travel or do not want to spend so much money right away. Businesses in the travel industry will likely market themselves to locals for a while to appeal to the desire of a “staycation.”

The furloughs and layoffs throughout the industry also mean that small, local tourism businesses will be struggling well after the pandemic is over, unlike larger, high-end chains. And even these businesses will most likely have to continue enforcing social distancing after they open their doors. The fewer options combined with enforced safety precautions may not appeal to most travelers.


Filed Under: Tourism

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