COVID-19 and 2020 Southern Travel Trends
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
2020 has been a year to remember for many reasons, some not-so-great, while others were more memorable.
For the most part, 2020 has been a year where the global population has been sequestered at home, waiting out a global pandemic.
One of the biggest industries disrupted by the virus is the travel industry. 2019 statistics reported by statista.com show that travel and tourism’s total contribution to the global economy reached about $9.25 trillion (USD). Secondly, the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide in 2019 was about 1.46 billion.
On the other hand, the UN World Tourist Organization reported that international tourism numbers were down by 65 percent in the first six months of 2020. The direct cause is attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic as countries closed their borders and introduced travel restrictions in response.
As we are about seven weeks away from the start of 2021, everyone is wondering how the pandemic will impact Christmas travel plans and travel in the new year overall.
Consider the 2020 OmioTravel Trends that demonstrates the evolution of how and where people travel during uncertain times.
Top travel destinations have changed
International travel is out. Staycations are in.
What is a staycation? It’s simply a holiday taken close to home or your home state, rather than traveling across the country or abroad. Staycations also include staying at home and going on day trips to areas and attractions close to your residence.
There are plenty of places in the South you could visit within your region for a staycation if you know where to look.
In Alabama, for instance, the historic Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa recently reopened for business after suffering damages from Hurricane Zeta. This “grand” property would make a perfect staycation getaway, especially around the holidays.
In Mississippi, The Monmouth Historic Inn and Gardens offers delicious food, interesting tours, and, of course, beautiful gardens.
There are plenty more locations in the South that would make perfect staycation destinations. Check our Travel section to find them.
Transport modes have shifted from planes to trains
The shift from airplane travel to bus and train travel has been an intriguing trend to watch. Part of the reason is that intercontinental and international travel has been suspended for much of 2020.
However, another primary reason for this behavior change is the negative environmental impact of flying instead of traveling by bus or train. The majority of planes have been indefinitely grounded. Statistics show that U.S. air travel has dropped by 95 percent between 2019 and 2020. Consequently, over 16,000 aircraft have been parked at airports and other venues worldwide, forcing travelers to make alternative travel arrangements.
This is not a bad thing. Train travel has an appeal that other modes of travel lack. The rumble of the track beneath you and the scenery passing by through the window is truly an experience worth having. Or, hop on a Christmas Wine Train in aptly named Grapevine, Texas.
However, if you are looking to go somewhere that does not have an easy route by train, a road trip may be in order.
Tourism has spread from traditional destinations to small towns
This point is self-explanatory in that the smaller towns and regions experienced an influx of holiday goers during the summer of 2020. This makes sense, especially within the South, as many small Southern towns have unique cultures and experiences all their own.
Expect to see tourists and new faces this winter as holiday vacationers look to experience the small towns of the South, instead of traveling to one of the larger cities across the U.S.
Finally, some of the top 2020 US destinations included places like Asheville, North Carolina, where you’ll find a combination of mountain views, wine, art and even snow.