COVID-19 Impacts on Family Travel
After an exhaustive search through credible sources, it appears that there is insufficient information available concerning how COVID-19 is expected to impact family travel in the United States. However, one such area that could be severely impacted is the cruise industry, following recommendations from the CDC and State Department suggesting widespread cruise travel avoidance.
Precautionary Measures Taken by Theme Parks Amid COVID 19
- In an interview, International Theme Park Services Inc's president Dennis Speigel said that theme parks and tourist attractions may endure "a lot of fumigation, disinfection, right now, not only in the front of the house, but the back of the house."
- Disney officials are keeping extra hand sanitizes in its many hotel locations and four parks.
- Disney is also educating its staff members about illness prevention and increasing their normal cleaning schedules due to COVID-19.
- Theme park officials noted that they are receiving recommendations from the CDC and are implementing certain precautions to protect visitors.
Cruise Ship Travel Concerns
- The CDC advised that all travelers avoid traveling by cruise ship to both domestic and international areas. According to the entity, "Cruise ship passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19." Illnesses can spread rapidly between individuals confined to close quarters on cruise ships, a fact that could scare many families away from traveling on the vessels.
- Moreover, the U.S. State Department advised the same precautions concerning cruise vacations, recommending that citizens and families with plans in place to board cruise ships contact the cruise line agency they are booked with and obtain additional details. There is also the concern that efforts may be taken by the U.S. government to restrict cruising.
- Recently, around 329 Americans had to be evacuated from the Diamond Princess that has remained in quarantine since February 4, 2019. The Americans themselves were later subjected to a quarantine at Lackland Air Force Base (San Antonio, California) and Travis Air Reserve Base (Southern California).
- The CDC also states that older travelers, particularly those suffering from underlying ailments, should bypass crowded areas, including cruise ships and long flights on planes, which could hinder their ability to take part in certain trips with their families.
- Many major U.S. and global cruise lines are already feeling the effect of the pandemic, as their stocks have fallen over 50% since mid-January. Another potential concern are the occupations associated with the U.S. cruise industry, with more than 300,000 positions in South Florida.
Travel Industry Insights
- As of March 2020, no travel restrictions have been implemented for the United States amid the coronavirus outbreak. However, advisories have been issued for international travel, which has harmed the travel plans of several people.
- According to the U.S. Travel Association, there will be a 6% reduction in international tourists traveling to the U.S. from March to June (next three months) due to the coronavirus.
- The U.S. Travel Association is in consultation with authorities representing the CDC, White House, Health and Human Services, and others at the nation's airports about the ongoing situations developing in the travel sector because of COVID-19.
- Safe Harbors Business Travel's (Maryland) president Jay Ellenby, who also an ASTA board chairman, claimed that his travel company's sales have been reduced by about 20% from 2019, while international travel has decreased by around 37% as a result of the coronavirus.
During our research, we were unable to locate detailed insights surrounding how COVID-19 is expected to impact family travel in the United States. Below is an overview of the research strategy we employed to find this information.
Our research began by searching for information on travel industry association sites like the U.S. Travel Association, USTOA, Hospitality Net, among others. With this strategy, we found information on the emergency preparedness of COVID-19, among other topics, but there was no information on the possible impact on family travel in the United States. We believed this strategy would work as these sites serve as advocate components of the travel industry and could have published information surrounding how COVID-19 is expected to impact family travel in the country.
Next, we searched for articles on travel-related sites such as Travel Weekly, Travel and Leisure, Trip Advisor, US Travel Online, etc. This strategy did not yield the results we were seeking as there was no information available on the expected to impact family travel because of COVID-19. Instead, we found information on threats to travel agencies, how travel agencies are responding to the coronavirus, etc. We believed this strategy would work as these sites tend to publish detailed reports and articles on travel industry guides and could have published relevant information.
Finally, we looked for interviews from executives and owners of theme parks, family resorts, amusement parks, etc. in the United States. We wanted to see if any of the executives of theme parks like Disneyland, Six Flags, etc. have mentioned how the outbreak has impacted family travelers attending their theme parks. The idea here was to use such comments to present as related insights. We came across interviews on sites such as Syracuse, the LA Times, among others. However, there was no relevant information available. At most, we merely located information on the precautionary measures taken by theme parks and resorts amid COVID-19.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak is relatively new, travel industry associations, experts, executives of theme parks, etc. have yet to ascertain how it could impact family travel.