Yes, more and more Countries are opening their borders once again to tourism. Yes, airlines are reporting more and more passengers on planes. Yes, this is good news for the tourism industry. And while we love the good news, we are trying to make sure we keep everyone's expectations at levels that we feel to be more realistic. That is why we say we are cautiously optimistic. What is keeping us being cautious? Well here are a few reasons for that.
Vaccine passports. While keeping this post non-political, the fact is that millions of travelers are opposed to the vaccines that are being administered right now around the world. Millions of people. If vaccine passports are going to be truly mandated by some Countries, then that means normal tourism demand will be way short of previous year's demand. Millions of would be travelers will be forced to only travel to those destinations not requiring someone to prove they were vaccinated.
Uncertain or lower than expected demand. Related to the vaccine passport issue, if demand slows after such a thing is mandated, then that will impact who will thrive and who will not survive in our industry. Hotels that have been struggling to get by may not survive if demand does not increase soon. Airlines will continue to cancel routes or flights to areas with slowing demand. Cruise lines will need to rethink itineraries and ship deployments due to possible lower than expected demand.
No clear metrics being used. It's hard for hotels and airlines and cruise lines to plan for future demand when so many Countries have not made it clear as it pertains to the metrics they are using to determine their reopening to tourists. France had announced a new shutdown for at least 3 weeks but then quickly issues a statement that they will reopen to tourists in May. Australia remains closed to tourists as well as New Zealand even though they virtually have no real ongoing threat of an increase in deaths or over-stressed hospitals. Until someone explains what their plans are and metrics they are using to meet their goals, how can any tourism CEO plan for the future? This will impact availability which may mean supply will not be able to keep up demand.
Taking all 3 of those above into account and it's clear why some places are seeing huge spikes in demand already while others are yet to see their first post-virus tourist. Florida has been open now for months and tourists have flocked to the sunshine state in droves. That has translated to hotels being sold out or priced hundred of dollars higher per night than usual, rental cars being impossible to find and airfare being way more than what it would be this time of year 2 years ago. Meanwhile, hotels in NYC are closing up due to basically a zero tourism market. Mexico is doing much better since they decided to reopen several months ago compared to the Caymans that have yet to reopen to tourists. These are just some small examples of how hard it is to get a grasp of what tourism will look like in the coming months.
Increased demand and trip requests are awesome and a blessing, but only when you have places that are willing and ready to accept this demand. Our guess is that uncertainty will remain in our industry for at least the next few months. Once the majority of Countries that are known for tourism officially open back up and they make their entry requirements clear, we will have all the info we need to determine how well tourism is going to rebound. But for now...we remain cautiously optimistic and grateful for our clients who have already come back and are ready to travel.
What are your thoughts? Do you see yourself traveling more and less in coming months than what you would have done 2 years ago? We welcome your comments and questions.