Some countries and cities thrive because of tourism. Think about a city like New York. Every year, millions of people flock there from around the country and the world.
They eat in restaurants and shop in stores. But now, many of the restaurants remain closed. The owners might have opened some of the stores, but no tourists are shopping there because no one is coming to the city from out of town.
In this article, we’ll break down the pandemic’s tourism impact, not just in 2020, but in the coming years.
People Don’t Have Disposable Income
Since the pandemic hit, many people have stayed at home. Some of them experience boredom.
Motorcycle owners might explore their cities, socially distancing if they go out in groups. 80% of motorcycle crashes result in injury, but that doesn’t stop these adventurous types from hopping on their Harleys to shake off the cabin fever. Other less thrill-seeking individuals might:
- Go for walks
- Stay at home and watch streaming services
- Read books
These are all things that don’t cost much. They appeal to many people because of Covid-19-related job losses. Many individuals are still out of work, or their employers have cut their hours.
Less disposable income means less tourism. Cities like New York, Las Vegas, and other popular vacation spots can’t expect to see anywhere near the money they usually do if people won’t leave their homes.
Another puzzle piece is that even if someone still has their job, and they have disposable income they might spend, they don’t want to fly anywhere. That’s because:
- They know flying is dangerous right now
- They understand that even with a mask on, they’re breathing recirculated air
Someone might get on a plane and keep their mask on, but they’re still in an enclosed space with others from around the country. Even if they come from an area that has Covid-19 spread under control, they don’t know from what regions the other travelers come.
If someone has money but they don’t want to fly, they’re not likely to hop in their car and travel across the country to go on vacation. Tourism is probably the last thing on their minds, especially with winter coming on.
Not every region is handling the pandemic the same way. For instance, in some states or cities, there are mask mandates for those who want to go in the local establishments. Other regions don’t have those.
If an individual travels to a city for tourism purposes, they might not want to wear a mask in the stores, which is a city mandate. If they insist they won’t wear a mask, they can’t shop, so they won’t stimulate the economy.
The opposite might be true. Someone might visit a region where there are no local mask mandates. Some locals might even mock them for wearing masks.
They won’t want to go in establishments and spend money because there are people there without masks who won’t practice social distancing. Since there are no universal, federally-issued requirements, there’s widespread chaos. Practically no one wants to be a tourist with any of this going on, even if they have the money to do so.
As for traveling overseas for tourism purposes, that’s next to impossible. Many countries bar US citizens from entering right now, and who could blame them? The US has handled the virus so poorly that many other countries view Americans suspiciously.
They either bar Americans from entering, or else they make potential tourists quarantine for multiple days or even weeks before they can move about freely. Not many people want to go through that.
Besides, some foreign countries have imposed lockdowns, in some cases doing so for a second time to stop the pandemic’s spread. If that’s happening, an American won’t want to visit that country for tourism or anything else.
To sum up, tourism is a mess right now, both domestic and foreign. It’s also probably going to be that way for a long time to come.
We might have a vaccine late in 2021, but that’s months away. The painful reality is that a lot of businesses won’t survive that long. Many have shuttered already because they cannot go to an eCommerce business model.
Many different pieces comprise what we collectively call the tourism industry. Almost all of them suffer at the moment. It’s by no means certain when tourism will come back or what it will look like when it does.