With no concrete end in sight to the pandemic, travel advisers are nonetheless optimistic, albeit guardedly, about the industry’s comeback this year.
That optimism, however, comes with caveats — most notably the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements that all air travelers provide proof of negative COVID-19 tests to enter the U.S. beginning on Jan. 26.
“I believe with better cooperation from the CDC that by mid-April we should be able to see things return to mostly normal,” said Lydia Blanton of Wishing on Travel. “Many people will have taken the COVID-19 vaccination by then, and that, coupled with the natural herd-immunity, which is on the rise, should allow restrictions to ease up, as cases decline.”
Blanton was not as optimistic about 2021 cruise business. “Unfortunately, I don’t see the cruise lines successfully sailing much, if any, in 2021,” she said. “They’re held to such higher standards — (and) scrutinized so much more than all other aspects of travel.”
She added, “I would like to see CLIA take them to task, as the CDC seems determined to eradicate cruising forever by their actions. Most of the people I talk to are ready to cruise and don’t find it any more risky than living their everyday lives.”
Blanton urged her fellow travel advisers to reach out to their legislatures and lobbyists to learn about the key issues and how to effect change.
“Research in this area is becoming as important as researching destinations,” she said. “Learning how Congress works, and who you can talk to, can be done by joining an organization such as National Write Your Congressman, (nwyc.com) like I have.”
Similarly, Jennifer Doncsecz of VIP Vacations believes 2021 predictions are dependent on how the U.S. government acts — and reacts — going forward.
“We need our government to focus on actions that will have an impact,” she said. “The CDC announcement will likely have a significant impact on overall consumer confidence, leading to likely less travel for the start of 2021, while also not, in our opinion, having any impact whatsoever on the rates of infection or spread of COVID.”
Kim Cook of Love to Travel believes that international travel will be limited through March or April due to the CDC testing requirement. “We are hopeful we will see consistent travel in the summer once the vaccine is more widespread,” she said.