Assess the outlook for international travel
If 2020 was the summer of the road trip imposed by the pandemic, many people seem to be hoping that 2021 will be the summer when they can travel abroad. But that’s a big “if”. Roadblocks abound, including the rise in variant cases in popular destinations like Europe and confusion over what role vaccine “passports” will play when people start crossing borders. Johnson & Johnson’s recent coronavirus vaccine hiatus adds a new wrinkle.
Still, there is reason to be optimistic. The number of vaccine doses given in the United States each day has tripled in recent months, and President Biden has said the United States is still on track to vaccinate all American adults who want it here. the end of May. Globally, the number of vaccines has increased, with more than 840 million vaccines administered worldwide.
Currently, Americans are not allowed into many countries for non-essential travel. Travelers can check US Department of State website for country-specific entry restrictions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for recommendations for international travelers (vaccinated and unvaccinated), and the CDC COVID Data Tracking to monitor country conditions.
There is a lot of pent-up demand, “no question,” said Emily Weiss, general manager of global travel services at consulting and technology company Accenture, but there is currently no centralized system for people to. show their vaccination status. Countries and airlines are working with technology companies to create multiple systems; the hope is that the systems will eventually complement each other, rather than create confusion.
Despite the roadblocks, the prospect of traveling abroad looks more promising today than it did just a few months ago. Here’s how some major airlines, international hotel companies, and major travel agencies are planning the resurgence of international travel.
As of April 2019, there were around 1,400 international routes served by direct flights, according to John Grant, a senior analyst at OAG, which provides data on global travel. That number fell to 567 in April 2020 and has rebounded a bit to around 850 direct routes now, he said.
“It is unlikely that all or even the majority of international markets served by the United States will be fully open during the summer season, despite the airlines’ best hopes,” Grant said.
As travel restrictions are relaxed in some places, airlines are responding quickly. When Iceland announced on March 16 that it would allow all vaccinated travelers to enter the country, Delta Air Lines followed soon after with a ad that in May, it would resume its routes in Iceland from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Minneapolis St. Paul Airport, and offer a new route from Boston.
Some airlines seem to be considering expanding international flights as vaccines become more available, and it was reported that the Biden administration can revoke existing travel restrictions for foreign nationals coming from Britain, Europe and Canada, around mid-May.
Still, the market is very changing, Mr Grant said, so even if airlines increase their flight schedules, they will continue to adjust to demand, perhaps consolidating some of the flights.
United Airlines plans to increase international flights, but will still run roughly half of its 2019 schedule. Among the planned flights are those between Chicago and Haneda Airport in Tokyo and Tel Aviv. The company also plans to increase service from Los Angeles to Sydney and Tokyo Narita.
Beach destinations open to Americans have seen increased demand and United is planning 90 more flights per week to or from the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America than in May 2019.
Patrick Quayle, vice president of United Airlines’ international network, said the company added more flights to open countries, but was uncertain when additional destinations like Canada – which is currently closed to American tourists. and which has recently seen an increase in cases – would be added to this list. United are trying to be nimble, he said, so “if something should open up we could quickly put our plane in the sky.”
At American Airlines, new connections are planned this summer from New York to Athens and Tel Aviv, and from Miami to Suriname and Tel Aviv. (Israel announced that it allow certain vaccinated tourists to enter the country from May 23.) American also announced the restart of a number of flights to Europe. Beyond that, the company will not be speculating on the next opening of air travel.
United and American have added information to their websites to help travelers prepare for international requirements. United Airlines’ Travel ready center allows passengers with reserved tickets to view their country-specific entry requirements and schedule testing, and will soon allow customers to download and store their vaccination records on the website before traveling. Americans online travel tool on the company’s website already allows passengers to store required documents, such as proof of negative coronavirus tests.
An airline that focuses on flights between the United States and international destinations is not an American carrier, but a Middle Eastern carrier: Emirates. The United Arab Emirates opened up to leisure and business travelers last July and Emirates is already offering a direct service to Dubai from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Washington, DC, New York and Boston. Passengers can also connect from there to other destinations in the Middle East, Africa and West Asia. The company recently announced that it will resume flight between Newark and Athens June 1.
As global hotel companies prepare to welcome more guests, they also continue to focus on the health and cleaning protocols they put in place during the pandemic. Some have added virus testing on the spot. In addition, so-called “contactless technology”, such as phone apps for ordering food, will continue to be deployed. A report of Medallia Zingle, a communications software maker, found that 77% of consumers surveyed said the amount of in-person interaction required in a business will determine their decision whether or not to visit that business.
Marriott, one of the world’s largest international hotel companies, with some 7,600 hotels under 30 brands, has implemented a set of practices it calls Commitment to clean up This includes disinfectant properties with hospital-grade disinfectants, the use of air purification systems, and the distribution of lobby furniture to facilitate social distancing. Some properties offer free coronavirus testing.
Recently, the company announced a pilot program introducing self-service check-in kiosks that create room keys and allow guests to bypass the front desk. It also adds more â€œtake outâ€ food options.
Hyatt, another major international brand, also continues to focus on cleanliness. Currently he is working with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council and the Cleveland Clinic to create his Global commitment to care and cleanliness. These practices “will remain in place during the pandemic and beyond,” wrote Amy Weinberg, senior vice president of loyalty, brand marketing and consumer insights at Hyatt, in an email.
â€œWith pent-up travel demand and increased vaccine distribution, we expect that leisure travel will continue to lead the recovery, followed by growing demand from business and travel groups. business, â€Ms. Weinberg wrote.
The company announced its reopening at the end of March its HÃ´tel du Palais in Biarritz, France, one of its last closed properties. Almost all Hyatt properties have been open since last December, and in February the company began arranging for guests staying at Hyatt resorts in Latin America who planned to return to the United States to get free coronavirus tests on square.
IHG’s Kimpton brand with 73 hotels in 11 countries plans to change its protocols this summer, where it feels safe and local ordinances allow it – for example, bringing back the social hour hosted by the manager, a favorite of the guests.
The four Kimpton hotels in Britain that have closed due to the pandemic are expected to reopen by the end of May. A new Kimpton property in Bangkok that opened in October 2020 to local guests will welcome international travelers this fall. The company also plans to open a new hotel in Bali and one in Paris later this year.
“Hoteliers are irritated” to reopen and are able to do so quickly, said Robin Rossman, managing director of hotel analysis firm STR. The global hotel industry, however, will likely take up to two years to make a full comeback, he said.
Despite the uncertainties, demand for international tours is increasing and, like airlines, travel agencies are on the rise. Trips that emphasize the outdoors and uncrowded areas are particularly popular.
The San Francisco-based Geographical expeditions, who did not take any trips last summer, said their bookings had increased significantly in recent months. He plans to organize 20 international trips this summer, both to familiar destinations such as the Galapagos and others off the beaten track including Pakistan and Namibia. According to Managing Director Brady Binstadt, there are only about 25% fewer registered customers now than there were for the 2019 summer trips, and they are “ spending more than before – they splurge for that finest hotel suite or charter flight or special experience. “
The company chose its first destinations based on entry conditions and customer interest, then adjusted routes to avoid crowds, minimize internal theft, and ensure customers had access to required tests. One expedition required the flight of a Covid-19 test from a safari lodge in Botswana by helicopter.
A guest recently postponed a geographic expeditions trip scheduled for 2022 to 2021. The company is hoping that will become a trend.
Abercrombie and Kent resumed small-group and private trips last fall and early winter to places like Egypt, Costa Rica and Tanzania, and continues to expand her choices as countries open up . â€œThere has been a noticeable increase in the number of people calling who have received their first vaccine,â€ said Stefanie Schmudde, vice president of product development and operations. Bookings in March are up more than 50% from bookings in February, according to the company.
Ms. Schmudde carefully monitors travel conditions around the world and can denounce the names of countries open to tourists for a few months and those she intends to open soon. She predicts that Japan and China will open this fall, but doesn’t expect Europe to welcome many visitors anytime soon.