Delta Variant Case Down From Peak: Is Vacation Travel Safe?


The Grinch may have stolen this holiday season as well.

With COVID-19 still raging due to the delta variant (cases are down from their peak, but transmission is still high in most counties) and millions of people unvaccinated due to reluctance or age, a robust, pre-pandemic return to Thanksgiving family reunions and the fun Christmas week break is unlikely.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised people who have not received their vaccines to avoid travel and suggest Americans mark Turkey Day as well as Christmas, Hanukkah. and Kwanzaa with people in their homes, from a distance, or in outdoor gatherings with guests six feet away. For people who want to have this experience in person – it’s not 2020, after all – public health officials have compiled a list of recommended guidelines to protect everyone from COVID-19, including:

  • to get vaccinated
  • know when to wear a mask
  • do not attend or host a holiday celebration if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID
  • set ground rules for participants and, if they are indoors, open windows and doors to let in fresh air, possibly even adding a window fan

A study released last week by tourism market research firm Destination Analysts found that 53.6% of U.S. travelers say the delta variant makes them less interested in travel.

But for people who miss spending time with friends and family who live far away or miss spending money on travel, the season for airline ticket reservations and travel planning is already here. And just like in retail, there is pent-up consumer demand in the travel industry; people can’t wait to get out of town again.

“We will definitely see more people traveling during the Thanksgiving holidays and during Christmas and the holiday season,” said Muzzo Uysal, department director and professor of hospitality and tourism management at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. . Uysal predicts that people will venture close to home first, and then these regional and intranational trips will expand to international destinations, aided by the reopening of restaurants and sights as well as great deals on tickets. plane and hotels. “No doubt, these numbers will increase,” Uysal adds.

In fact, Thanksgiving passenger levels will be 75% of what they were in 2019 and Christmas ones will be 80%, but both will be double what they were in 2020, according to the forecast. Hopper travel booking app.

“They do FaceTime and social platforms, but they miss not being physically in the same [place as their] family. A good hug, you know? », Explains Uysal. “Travel is something that appeals to our higher-order emotional needs. ?

Michael Miraflor’s vacation plans are a little upset. The 39-year-old marketing and advertising strategist is bi-coastal; Usually he’s in New York then returns to Los Angeles to celebrate with his family, but at this point in the pandemic he’s based in LA

“I tried to limit my schedule between now and Thanksgiving to make sure I didn’t contract anything and to mitigate my risk,” says Miraflor. “While I would normally be on a plane every three weeks, I have decided not to travel until Thanksgiving in order to mitigate the risks of disrupting vacation plans for my family and extended family who plan to do so. things for Thanksgiving. “

The plan calls for around 15 family members, including seniors and children, to gather at the family member’s home with the largest outdoor space: a back patio without a single large table and seating areas. in the court. The SoCal weather is good enough to allow for an alfresco Thanksgiving dinner.

Before the pandemic, says Miraflor, the Turkey Day dinner was formal in a dining room with people migrating to the family room for football or a movie, while Christmas was buffet style. The guest list was always much longer and those on it were more social.

“Now it’s a lot more intimate, more family and close to extended family, like aunts and uncles,” he says. “It’s more contained. It’s a homecoming, not bad. . . Obviously I would like it to be some kind of celebration, if it was “Hey, we’re at the other end of this”, but I’m realistic about the pandemic. “

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