Worldwide, the virus cancels spring travel for millions

Frankfurt, Germany (AP) – They are annual trips to late winter and early spring: factory workers in China are going home for the Lunar New Year; American college students going on a road trip and hitting the beach on spring break; German and British fleeing skies for some Mediterranean sun on Easter.

All this due to coronovirus canceled out under suspicion or pressure.

Fear of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have been hit such that people begin to look ahead to the generally busy times for travel.

This means more pain for airlines, hotels, restaurants and tourist destinations, which were already struggling for more than a year in the epidemic, and a slow recovery for countries where tourism is a major part of the economy.

Colleges around the US have canceled spring break to discourage students from traveling. After Indiana University in Bloomington replaced its usual break with three “wellness days”, student Jackie Sylvester dropped plans to celebrate her 21st birthday in Las Vegas.

Instead he would mark milestones close to home, with one day only 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the casino in French Lick, Indiana.

“I was actually waiting for a whole week to leave. I wanted to be able to have some drinks and have fun – look at the casinos and everything – and honestly look at another city and just travel a little bit, ”she said.

“At least it’s giving us a little fun for a day in a condensed version of our original Vegas plans. Like, I’m still going to be able to celebrate. … I’m just forced to do it closer to home. “

At bus and train stations in China, there is no sign of the annual lunar new year rush. The government has called on the public to avoid traveling after new coronovirus outbreaks. Only five of the 15 security gates were open at Beijing’s Caverns Central railway station; The hordes of travelers who usually camped on the grounds outside were absent.

The holiday, which begins on February 12, is usually the world’s largest movement of humanity, as hundreds of millions of Chinese cities travel to their hometowns or sightseeing or travel abroad. For millions of migrant workers, this is usually the only chance to visit their hometown during the year. This year, officers are promised additional pay if they stay.

The government says that people will make 1.7 billion trips during the holiday, but this is 40% less than in 2019. According to travel associations, departments coming from Beijing and Chengdu in the southwest are estimated to leave 75%.

Each news cycle brings new restrictions. US President Joe Biden reinstated restrictions on travelers from more than two dozen European countries, South Africa and Brazil, while those leaving the US are now required to show a negative test before returning.

Canada halted flights to the Caribbean. Israel closed its main international airport. Travel in the European Union is severely restricted, with entry restrictions and quarantine requirements for citizens to enter.

International Air Transport Association chief economist Brian Pearce said that for air travel, “the short-term outlook has certainly deepened.” Governments have invested $ 200 billion to advance the industry.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization says international arrivals fell 74% last year, wiping out $ 1.3 trillion in revenue and jeopardizing 120 million jobs. A UNWTO expert panel had a mixed outlook for 2021, with 45% expecting a better year, 25% with no change and 30% a bad one.

“The overall prospects of a rebound in 2021 have deteriorated,” the organization said.

Outlook is clouded by the vaccine rollout in Europe and the proliferation of new variants.

This means that Jack Allen-Reynolds at Capital Economics said, “There is a danger of another summer growing tourist season.” “This will cause a huge dent in the Greek economy and greatly delay recovery in Spain and Portugal.”

Travel company TUI is offering sunny package holidays in Greece and Spain, but with extensive cancellation provisions to attract cautious customers. Can be reached by car from places such as Germany’s North Sea islands and the Alps, in part because they benefit from the opportunity to separate. The German Vacation Home Association states that 60% of the popular locations are booked for July and August.

Thailand, where about one-tenth of the population depends on tourism for its livelihood, requires two weeks of quarantine for foreigners in designated hotels costing $ 1,000 and more. So far, only a few dozen people a day are choosing to travel. Tourist arrivals fell to less than 7 million in Thailand in 2020 and are projected to reach only 10 million this year from 40 million in 2019.

The resort island of Bali, Indonesia, has deported dozens of foreigners and began blocking foreign arrivals on 1 January as its coronavirus caseloid exceeded 1 million.

Gerasimos Bacogiannis, owner of the Ports Palace Hotel in Poticia in Greece’s northern Zakidiki region, said he is not even opening for Western Easter on April 4, but that Greek Orthodox will wait a month for Easter on May 2 and, he hopes, Is, 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. Ellen Kurttenbach contributed from Bangkok and Kostas Kontoris from Thessaloniki, Greece.