What can a fast traveling bullet do

"A carefree summer is wishful thinking" : Traveling in 2021 - is that possible?

Travel is a longing - in these times more than ever. Many hope that they will be able to go on vacation again largely without worries in the coming summer because the vaccinations take the horror out of the coronavirus and the number of cases is falling. But is that just a beautiful illusion? And how can the travel year 2021 succeed?

It's looking into the crystal ball, thinking in scenarios. Much will depend on the vaccinations. To stop the pandemic, experts estimate that around 60 to 70 percent of the population would have to be vaccinated - up to 58 million people in Germany. It is not entirely certain whether a vaccinated person will remain contagious. And the willingness to vaccinate in the population plays a major role.

Tourism researcher Prof. Christian Laesser from the University of St. Gallen dampens the hopes of the vacationers: "A carefree summer travel, that's wishful thinking."

His prognosis is: "Brake until early summer, maybe a slightly loosened brake in summer and then hopefully a much loosened brake in autumn and winter compared to now."

Limitations will remain

Michael Faber is the owner of a travel agency and managing director of tourism at the tourism advisory firm, and estimates: “The travel restrictions will probably continue in the next few months. We will see that destinations open and close again. ”That was last seen in the Canary Islands.

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Faber sees several hurdles that follow one another: first the infection process, then the travel restrictions, and finally people's desire to travel and the feeling of security.

Of course, they are all interrelated. People would only feel safer again when the number of infections declined. "But there are people who are already planning their summer vacation."

Ingo Burmester, Head of Central Europe at DER Touristik, is assuming a late booking trend. "The booking boost that usually comes in January should come in spring 2021."

Tourism relies on tests instead of vaccinations

In the travel industry itself, it is evidently not counting on nationwide vaccinations to bring about the turning point for the summer. For example, Tui boss Fritz Joussen bases his hopes on broad-based corona tests.

Last summer, the problem was that there were no tests and people had to be quarantined for two weeks after the trip. This should be different in 2021.

"In order to ensure greater safety for travelers and those who have traveled there, there will be more tests before arrival and after the return trip," believes Michael Faber.

The question that remains is whether rapid antigen tests that can also be carried out quickly at short notice will prevail - or whether the more complex PCR test will still be required, as is currently required by many countries for entry into the country.

The airline association IATA also relies on rapid tests - and would also like a digital passport. Corona test or vaccination certificates should be stored in it. An app is currently being developed for this. The aim is to make the quarantine obligations superfluous - currently a serious stumbling block for trips abroad.

Short-term goals will remain in trend

In any case, there are some indications that people tend to bake small rolls in terms of vacation technology in 2021 as well. “Long-distance travel will play a subordinate role in the coming year,” believes Prof. Christian Laesser. "Nothing will work at all before summer."

The short and medium-haul routes will be able to be restarted relatively soon, depending on demand. "But the level before Corona will not be reached yet." Intercontinental flights are more complex. "It will take even longer here."

Cruises are also associated with numerous imponderables. "Until we have found a sustainable solution to the pandemic, cruises will not go right," estimates Laesser. Recently there were hardly any ships. Many shipping companies have already made it mandatory for passengers to test before departure.

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Many consider summer holidays in Germany, but also on the Mediterranean Sea and in Europe to be halfway realistic - similar to 2020. "The near-by destinations will also be a trend in 2021," says Michael Faber. With the Tui one sees it similarly and sees the German Baltic Sea coast as well as Spain and Greece as top destinations of the summer.

It is best to book only with insurance

"For the summer I see the potential for a beach holiday on the Mediterranean to be better possible again," says Faber. Last summer, for example, the Balearic Islands, Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal, but also Turkey, were now quite easy to travel to.

Is it therefore possible to book a summer trip to the Mediterranean now? "If I can cancel that again free of charge, I would do it," says Laesser. Many tour operators and airlines are now offering these options.

Because holidaymakers must expect short-term changes to travel plans in 2021 as well. Faber says: "You have to be aware that the journey only takes place safely when you actually sit on the plane."

Entry only with proof of vaccination?

In the long term, the question arises whether a corona vaccination certificate is mandatory for international travel. It is feared that there will be a “compulsory vaccination through the back door”.

The Australian airline Qantas announced that it would introduce compulsory vaccinations for its passengers on intercontinental flights. Lufthansa, on the other hand, has already rejected such plans.

It remains to be seen whether the antigen tests will be sufficient upon entry into the respective destination country or whether proof of vaccination is required - and will probably differ from country to country. “It wouldn't be new that I need a vaccination to enter certain countries,” says Prof. Laesser - one example is yellow fever.

Conclusion: When exactly the pandemic will end and the travel restrictions will fall, it cannot be reliably predicted at the moment. However, there is good hope for an extended summer vacation - also abroad.

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