According to the World Tourism Organization, international travel declined by 22% in the first quarter of 2020, with March alone seeing a 57% decrease. This led to a loss of US$80 billion across the sector. Current projections for the rest of the year put the decline in international travel at between 58% and 78%.
Although the international travel industry will take time to recover, the fact of the matter remains that people are desperate to get out and about. With the majority of the world now experiencing less-strict levels of lockdown, this has opened up possibilities for people to travel within their own countries. Domestic travel is now on the rise, as although international borders may be closed, people are fast finding there’s plenty to explore in their backyard.
While ‘staycation’ traditionally means a holiday spent at home, nowadays the definition has been broadened to include staying near where you live, or in a resort, or town a couple of hours away. Many people are fast discovering the benefits of a staycation, and just some of the perks a local holiday have to offer include:
No need to fly
You can get to most places in a country by car, although some might take you longer to reach than others. This makes it an attractive method of travel, as you are not confined to a limited space, with people you do not know, for the duration of the journey.
Although airlines are adamant that their aircraft have state-of-the-art air filtration systems that filter the air inside the cabin, there’s no guarantee this kills all germs. Many people would feel uneasy stepping on a plane now, and for good reason.
If you drive to your destination, you’re in complete control of your environment and can sanitize it to your satisfaction. Plus, there’s no need to wear a mask when driving. As many people struggle with wearing masks for hours on end, this is a huge benefit.
No risk of border closures
If you’re traveling domestically there’s no chance of being unable to return to your home country if borders are suddenly closed. The news has been full of stories about travelers stuck in countries far from home due to border closures, and this can cause a myriad of complications. In some cases, travelers have been in limbo for months, waiting to fly home.
This is a concern that won’t affect local travelers, as their movements won’t be governed by border closures, or sudden changes to government regulations. If an outbreak of COVID-19 flares up or there are new regulations brought into place, domestic travelers will be far closer to home, and can return safely, and in good time. This reduces the stress of traveling, and makes it far more enjoyable.
Touching again on the point of air travel, if you drive to your destination you don’t have to spend additional money on car hire. This makes your trip that much more affordable. Gas is also generally far cheaper than a plane ticket, and you can budget according to the distance you want to travel.
As you’re traveling within your country, you’re not subject to fluctuating exchange rates, which could greatly add to the price tag of your holiday. And, with domestic travel, you don’t have to worry about additional paperwork such as passports or visas. This makes for much less stress on your part, and cuts costs too.
With the travel industry in such dire straits, a vast number of establishments are offering incredible deals or discounts. For domestic travelers, the chance to stay in a luxury hotel or eat at some of the finest restaurants may be in reach for the first time ever. A whole new world of opportunities has opened up to locals, and in many cases, they’ve become tourists in their own cities.
Every industry, sector, and individual has been negatively affected by COVID-19 one way or another. The hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors have been some of the hardest hit, and in some cases are still not able to fully operate. By traveling domestically, you’re supporting local businesses and helping them get back on their feet.
From hotels to restaurants, pubs and local tourist attractions, everyone will benefit when you travel domestically. These entities may previously have relied almost solely on international visitors, but now, locals will be their main source of income.
Local economies need all the help they can get, and rather than spending your money in a foreign land, you’ll help your own countrymen weather the storm.
Encouraging local exploration
For many people, the feeling of being close to home is a safe one, and during the pandemic safety has been a major concern. As the shift from international to domestic travel grows, people will invest more time and effort in exploring their immediate surroundings as they feel more secure.
In most towns and cities there are numerous attractions that locals see all the time, but don’t explore. Now, these attractions will get local attention – and local revenue. This will also encourage ongoing economic growth as many people will become repeat visitors of places they’d previously not even have considered visiting.
A new trend that’s here to stay
It’s safe to say that amidst the pandemic, traveling habits are changing. There is no telling how long international travel restrictions will be in place, and when the travel industry will return to normal. However, it’s safe to say that for the next few months at least, domestic travel will be experiencing rapid growth, especially over the festive season.
Whereas people previously would have flown internationally, their focus now will be on destinations they can drive to, without the risk of border closures. Fortunately, there are benefits to this, and instead of seeing it as a downside, it can be thought of as a positive. Traveling domestically boosts the local economy, and that’s something desperately needed right now.