May 14, 2021

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It's time to think about Travel.

Around the globe, coronavirus cancels spring travel for millions | News

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — They are the annual journeys of late winter and early spring: Factory workers in China heading home for the Lunar New Year; American college students going on road trips and hitting the beach over spring break; Germans and Britons fleeing drab skies for some Mediterranean sun over Easter.

All of it canceled, in doubt or under pressure because of the coronavirus.

Amid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people start to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel.

It means more pain for airlines, hotels, restaurants and tourist destinations that were already struggling more than a year into the pandemic, and a slower recovery for countries where tourism is a big chunk of the economy.

Colleges around the U.S. have been canceling spring break to discourage students from traveling. After Indiana University in Bloomington replaced its usual break with three “wellness days,” student Jacki Sylvester abandoned plans to celebrate her 21st birthday in Las Vegas.



A man stands next to his surfboard stall as he waits for a costumer at a beach in Bali, Indonesia on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Amid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people start to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)




Instead she will mark the milestone closer to home, with a day at the casino in French Lick, Indiana, just 50 miles away.

“I was really looking forward to getting out of here for a whole week. I wanted to be able to get some drinks and have fun — see the casinos and everything — and honestly see another city and just travel a little,” she said.

“At least it’s letting us have 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 travel following new coronavirus outbreaks. Only five of 15 security gates at Beijing’s cavernous central railway station were open; the crowds of travelers who usually camp on the sprawling plaza outside were absent.



Virus Outbreak Spring Travel

A Balinese traditional security guard called ‘pecalang’ stands at an entrance of culture park which is temporary closed for public in Bali, Indonesia on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Amid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people start to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)




The holiday, which starts Feb. 12, is usually the world’s single biggest movement of humanity as hundreds of millions of Chinese leave cities to visit their hometowns or tourist spots or travel abroad. For millions of migrant workers, it usually is the only chance to visit their hometowns during the year. This year, authorities are promising extra pay if they stay put.

The government says people will make 1.7 billion trips during the holiday, but that is down 40% from 2019. Departures from Beijing and Chengdu in the southwest are forecast to drop 75%, according to travel associations.

Each news cycle seems to bring new restrictions. U.S. President Joe Biden reinstituted restrictions on travelers from more than two dozen European countries, South Africa and Brazil, while people leaving the U.S. are now required to show a negative test before returning.

Canada barred flights to the Caribbean. Israel closed its main international airport. Travel into the European Union is severely restricted, with entry bans and quarantine requirements for returning citizens.



Virus Outbreak Spring Travel

A Balinese woman gives an offering to Hindu god in Bali, Indonesia on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Airlines and hotels are desperately holding out for a recovery in travel. But instead they’re seeing more restrictions, from Canada to Indonesia. Governments are extra cautious due to the new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)




For air travel, “the short-term outlook has definitely darkened,” said Brian Pearce, chief economist for the International Air Transport Association. Governments have poured $200 billion into propping up the industry.

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

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



Virus Outbreak Spring Travel

A man wearing a face mask to curb the spread of the coronavirus sits on a bench playing a game on his smartphone as passengers line up to check in their luggage at a quiet departure hall of the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Amid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people start to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)




In Europe the outlook is clouded by lagging vaccine rollouts and the spread of the new variants.

That means “there is a growing risk of another summer tourist season being lost” said Jack Allen-Reynolds at Capital Economics. “That would put a huge dent in the Greek economy and substantially delay the recoveries in Spain and Portugal.”



Virus Outbreak Spring Travel

Passengers wearing face masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus push their luggage past the quiet check in counters at the departure hall of the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Amid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people start to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)




Travel company TUI is offering package vacations in the sun in Greece and Spain, but with broad cancellation provisions to attract cautious customers. Places that can be reached by car, such as Germany’s North Sea islands and the Alps, are benefiting to some extent because they offer a chance to isolate. The German Vacation Home Association says the popular locations are 60% booked for July and August already.



Virus Outbreak Spring Travel

Passengers wearing face masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus walk by a Lunar New Year decoration on display at the departure hall of the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Amid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people start to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)




Thailand, where about a tenth of the population depends on tourism for its livelihood, requires a two-week quarantine for foreigners at designated hotels costing about $1,000 and up. So far, only a few dozen people a day are opting to visit. Tourist arrivals fell to under 7 million in Thailand in 2020 and are forecast to reach only 10 million this year from 40 million in 2019.

Indonesia’s resort island of Bali has deported dozens of foreigners and began restricting foreign arrivals on Jan. 1 as its coronavirus caseload has exceeded 1 million.

Gerasimos Bakogiannis, owner of the Portes Palace hotel in Potidaia in Greece’s northern Halkidiki region, said he is not even opening for Western Easter on April 4 but will wait a month for Greek Orthodox Easter on May 2 — and, he hopes, the start of a better summer.

“If this year is like last year, tourism will be destroyed,” he said.

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McDonald contributed from Beijing and Smith from Indianapolis. Elaine Kurtenbach contributed from Bangkok and Costas Kantouris from Thessaloniki, Greece.



Virus Outbreak Spring Travel

FILE – In this Jan. 4, 2021, file photo, a lone street vender cooks a meal for a customer at Khao San road, a popular hangout with bars and entertainment for Thais and tourists in Bangkok, Thailand. Amid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people start to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)






Virus Outbreak Spring Travel

FILE – In this Nov. 27, 2020, file photo, tourists pose for pictures at a mountain viewpoint as sun rises over mist covered Laotian villages seen from Phu Chi Fa viewpoint, Chiang Rai, Thailand. Amid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people start to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)






Virus Outbreak Spring Travel

Thai Buddhist monk wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks pass closed shops in Khao San road, a popular hangout for Thais and tourists in Bangkok, Thailand Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Amid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people start to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)






Virus Outbreak Spring Travel

A lone hairdresser wait for customers in Khao San road, a popular hangout for Thais and tourists in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Amid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people start to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)






Virus Outbreak Spring Travel

FILE – In this Jan. 26, 2021, file photo, Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s main international hub, stands empty after the government approved a shutdown of all incoming and outgoing air traffic for a week, in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus, in Lod, Israel. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)






Virus Outbreak Spring Travel

A passenger wears a face mask she travels on a Delta Airlines flight Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, after taking off from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Amid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people start to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)