AP report: Covid-19 cancels spring travel for millions across the planet

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AP report: Covid-19 cancels spring travel for millions across the planetAmid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people begin to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel

Αssociated Press reports from Frankfurt in Germany that annual journeys of late winter and early spring such as 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 are either 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 begin 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.

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.

For air travel, "the short-term outlook has definitely darkened," noted 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 dropped 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.

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."

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 for isoaltion. The German Vacation Home Association says the popular locations are 60% booked for July and August already.

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 dropped 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, the owner of the Portes Palace hotel in Potidaea 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 claimed.

Read the full report at thenationalherald.com

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinationsGreek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: pixabay.com

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