“This was supposed to be the summer of “revenge travel,” catch-up trips, and rescheduled family reunions — but the surge in coronavirus cases, and in particular the highly contagious delta variant, has some travelers pausing their plans.
Summer 2021 has come with soaring prices for everything from rental cars to lobster rolls. Wildfires, heat waves, delays, worker shortages and an uptick in unruly passengers have all already tested the patience of the most hardy traveler.
But it wasn’t until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged even vaccinated people to resume wearing masks indoors that the ramifications started to ripple through the travel and tourism industry.
Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, which operates sites such as Kayak and Priceline, said the rise of the delta variant and the new travel restrictions “have led to a modest pullback in our booking trends in the month of July relative to June.”
Around the country, major tourist destinations, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles County, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. reinstated mask requirements in public indoor settings. Many communities are taking it a step further — a growing list of bars and restaurants in Seattle now require that patrons show proof of vaccination for entry. And nationwide, Yelp now has a filter that allows users to see if a restaurant or business has instituted a ‘proof of vaccination’ rule…
Tania Swasbrook, a luxury travel adviser at California-based Travelworld International Group, said many of her clients are also forging ahead.
“It’s revenge travel with a hint of ‘the world may close down again so let’s go now,’” she told NBC News.
Deciding whether to take a trip is just one part of the puzzle, however. Travelers, or their agents, need to keep up with what can feel like a rollercoaster of changing protocols and rules. For some, the solution is to book “insurance” trips.
“Travelers are getting savvy, taking advantage of flexible cancellation policies, and booking multiple vacations for the same time but to different areas,” said Misty Belles, vice president for global public relations at Virtuoso Travel Network.
With several plans in place, “they know one will go through even if something happens in the other destinations,” Belles said.
Adding to the uncertainty of traveling right now is the fact that hotels, restaurants and airlines are struggling to find enough workers to meet the demand.
“It is very bad right now,” said Jan Louise Jones, professor of hospitality and tourism in the Pompea College of Business at the University of New Haven. “And the variant? That’s not helping.”