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Coronavirus opportunities

The virus is here, and it's affecting things. Many people are reacting in a panicky manner. Where will this lead to reduced prices and lower crowds?

Posted by
141 posts

I’d imagine Lower crowds anywhere that even just one or two cases have been confirmed.

Posted by
8966 posts

It is leading to too darn many threads on this forum, that it where it is leading. Count them and then stop. Don't start another new thread.

Posted by
2261 posts

Yeah what's wrong with you, Paul, posting a topic on a Forum? ;-)

With heavy losses/canceled business, many companies and individuals will find (including the owner of this site) it hard to imagine prices for travel being slashed much, aside from airlines which is a way of life for them. The primary "benefit" of travel now and in near future, may be little in the way of crowds to deal with, but that's only if you're so inclined to travel. I am not.

Posted by
10248 posts

We’re in France presently but despite the smaller crowds, we’re coming back early. :—)

Posted by
1663 posts

It is easy to avoid Coronavirus threads when the word is in the title. If you don't want to read another thread about it, scroll on by.

Paul-of-the-Frozen-North, I am already seeing a lot of offers by airlines. I am also selfishly hoping that the panic will have passed but the crowds will be lower for my trip to Italy in a few weeks.

Posted by
650 posts

I'm sure coronavirus will lead to fewer people traveling anywhere, and cconsequently to reduced airline and hotel prices. But taking advantage of reduced crowds from an epidemic feels very different than taking advantage of fear following political unrest, lone shooters, or even natuaral disasters (provided in this last case there is sufficient infrusructure for guests).

Traveling to Paris and central Europe in 2016 or to Barcelona in January of 2018 did not add to local problems. Nor did it cause us to bring home problems with us. And not only were there fewer crowds, but locals were grateful we had come. So we felt very good about taking advantage of smaller crowds.

But, in an epidemic you have to worry that you are either bringing the problem with you, or taking it home. And reducing crowds is one of the best methods of stopping its spread.

So I really can't contemplate taking a trip for the purpose of reaping the benefits of an epidemic.

What I can imagine doing is being some of the first visitors
to places that have had the virus and are now attempting to normalize.

Posted by
3054 posts

Uh-oh. Looks like people think that I am trying to set up a bake-sale next to a mass-murder site. Not the case. I am merely noting that there is panic out there, and much of it is completely over-the-top. I am not planning on a cruise, as that would be too chancy. But I do wonder if some EU destinations will be looking for tourists.

Posted by
10248 posts

Lola, Nothing is wrong. We were able to get a refund for a 2-week Dubai-India cruise in the middle of this trip, so rather than stay away six weeks, we’ll be back early. Although we’re citizens here in Europe too, I have the same feeling about using vital resources that other ill people may need. If we need medical care, France is excellent, but they have more need for their beds right now. I feel I should get out of the way.
Furthermore, we prefer to wait this out in our own home rather than a rental. It’s easy enough to avoid crowds, except for today’s EasyJet flight, but it’s a bit nerve wracking to watch numbers increase exponentially. We’ll do some traveling on our own by car, see friends in Paris after spending time with family, and leave. Our house in the US is stocked for self-isolation in case it’s necessary.

Update on Saturday: India has now closed its ports to cruise ships so our 8 stops would have been reduced to two. Furthermore, Dubai has put people from France on the list of those from 10 countries who will be hospitalized for further tests if showing any symptoms at all of URI. Good luck with my runny nose.

Posted by
16444 posts

Bets, that makes perfect sense. Thanks for explaining. I hope you enjoy the remaining time of your stay there.

Good call to skip the cruise. I am watching to see shat they decide to do with the Grand Princess ship that is waiting to dock at San Francisco while someone figures out how to handle the infected (and possibly infected) passengers. My son and his family live in San Francisco, and our daughter and son-in-law, with a 4-month old infant, are close by.

Posted by
2116 posts

Bets, good call and safe (and healthy) travels home.

Paul, your question may be just a bit before its time....there could be promotions OR there could be higher prices (to handle the then-really-pent-up travel demand and to recover some of the losses for business during the crisis).

In the meantime, we should all have the thoughts in mind of those who depend on the travel/tourism industry for their livelihood. Article in today's Wall Street Journal discussing the potential for a very serious recession for Italy. If manufacturing parts cannot get to the US from China, jobs will be hurt for assembly plants here. Also ramifications for slowed business and leisure travel in our own country. And, many do not know that many very important prescription drugs and even some non-prescription over-the-counter pills depend on key ingredients from China (where those plants are still closed)....a very serious issue if pharma manufacturers in other countries cannot receive those critical ingredients. You state many people are reacting in a "panicky" manner.....perhaps there is more to (maybe) be concerned about than stocking up on a few extra rolls of toilet paper and canceling certain non-essential travel.

Your are right "that the virus is here, and it's affecting things." Travel deals may be the least of your worries if the corner does not turn on the virus somewhat quickly. Let us all hope it is more short-lived than feared it might be.

Posted by
1663 posts

I completely agree, Maggie.

I feel like the "cure" (or attempts at prevention) is worse than the disease and creating a lot of hardship.

I definitely think about all those things, but I also think about my trip to Italy. The thoughts are not mutually exclusive.

Posted by
3054 posts

Many sensible thoughts in these responses. Tourism is an industry. People's jobs depend on it. Taking "advantage" merely means accepting a discount, which keeps the system working.

Just read an email from a cruise promoter discussing Alaska cruises from Viking. Discounts of +50% are being offered. If you want an Alaska cruise, you may want to do it NOW with Viking. Unless you want to wait for the 75% off discounts that are coming.

Posted by
6113 posts

Reduced prices? Probably on flights and tours.

Lower crowds? Possibly not. Europeans aren’t travelling as much, so most are staying at home and will fill the void left by overseas tourists. Where the virus is virulent, places will be in lockdown, so crowds and prices are irrelevant.

Being selfish, I would prefer my over stretched health service focus on treating locals, not tourists should they fall ill.

Posted by
7582 posts

I think any idea of taking advantage of soft prices due to demand is a bit premature. Airlines are starting to hemorrhage money, so thoughts of cutting prices to attract crowds is not yet occurring, and right now with the changing situation, risk of cancellation or travel bans is high. Same with Hotels, Restaurants, and the like, they are just trying to absorb cancellations and the changing situation, not planning marketing.

The time to search for bargains would be when the situation stabilizes and businesses see reduced risk to offer bargains to attract people back, while people are still nervous to travel.

As for going now, yes, smaller crowds might be attractive, but risk, especially depending on area is heightened, not so much in regards to contracting the virus, but dealing with closings, getting caught up in containment actions, etc.

We were just in Portugal, and while there, the situation in Italy blew up, a situation in Tenerife at a hotel developed, and the first several cases in Portugal were reported. While we were not seriously concerned, we kept an eye on it and could have just as easily been caught up in a bad situation.

I am not sure the crowds were any less than a typical off-season crowd, we did hear quite a bit of concern from hotel staff and waitstaff about possible impact, especially in mid-size to smaller towns dependent on tourism. I could see off-season pricing hanging on until things pick up.

Posted by
18202 posts

Paul, hemorrhaging money? On a good year their margin is 9%, some years as low as 3%. That's why they pack'em like so tight and give so little service. But you are right in that prices havent moved. I'm planning a trip now; havent seen any great airline deals yet.

Posted by
2945 posts

I'm travelling with no change and if I get the corona virus, I'll beat it, plain and simple. No surgical mask or hazmat suit. I will use common sense precautions such as not touching my face until my hands are washed or otherwise disinfected.

Thinning crowds could make this spring the best travel months in 25 years.

Heavens to Bet-sy. Haha! Well done.

Posted by
7049 posts

I don't know what the rationale is, but there's a $99 flight fare (one-way non-stop) from DCA to LAX on Alaska Air, which is pretty darn incredible because about 25% or more of that is just taxes, so the base is probably under $70. Unfortunately I bought a ticket at $124 in February which is non-refundable. Both are good deals.

It will be interesting to see tourist volume in the Nation's capital during Cherry Blossoms season and summer compared to prior years. Normally there are tons of tourists, same with the 4th of July. School kid trips will be off, I assume, so I think it will feel different this year.

Posted by
5687 posts

Paul-of-the-Frozen-North, I have been thinking along the same lines. I had originally considered a spring trip to Europe using Alaska Airlines miles (AA as a partner - at least for a short time yet). A month ago, there was almost no availability for May. Now there are plenty of available award flights from the US to Europe with Alaska miles - pretty much every day. So it would definitely be "cheaper" for me to go say two months from now.

Who knows when Europe might get back to normal? Maybe by May, maybe not. I live less than three hours away from the largest outbreak in the US near Seattle, and we have COVID-19 cases here in Portland already anyway. (Given how little US testing has been done, I'm quite sure there are hundreds if not thousands of new undiagnosed cases here already.) It's hard for me to imagine my risk of catching it in Europe would be much higher than my risk of catching it here - maybe lower.

Someone did point out to me that if I get sick over there, it might not be very pleasant to be stuck over there. True enough. Then again, given the slow US response to COVID-19, I might have better luck finding a hospital bed there than here the way things are going - assuming I'd need one. This isn't Ebola even though people seem to act like it is. Most people who catch COVID-19 don't require hospitalization, and many do not get more than mild symptoms. I'd be more worried about spreading it or being stuck in quarantine somewhere than about getting very sick or dying from it.

Posted by
3054 posts

Someone did point out to me that if I get sick over there, it might not be very pleasant to be stuck over there. True enough. Then again, given the slow US response to COVID-19, I might have better luck finding a hospital bed there than here the way things are going - assuming I'd need one. This isn't Ebola even though people seem to act like it is. Most people who catch COVID-19 don't require hospitalization, and many do not get more than mild symptoms. I'd be more worried about spreading it or being stuck in quarantine somewhere than about getting very sick or dying from it.

This is not Ebola. I am 67, wife is 70. We are both in good health, and do not have lung-related conditions. Thus, I believe that if we get corona, it will be unpleasant but not fatal. If I'm wrong, I won't be wrong for long :->

We had not planned a trip this year. I am rethinking that.

Posted by
987 posts

I am not planning on a cruise, as that would be too chancy. But I do
wonder if some EU destinations will be looking for tourists.

I guess as long as you have deep pockets and don't mind the risk...

But if you are stuck somewhere in a lock down for two weeks or more you will be the captive audience and you will have to pay what ever the prices are.

Personally I feel traveling in the current situation when you don't need to is a poor choice if not even selfish as you risk becoming a carrier of this virus exposing your friends, relatives, work colleagues and the people at the other location to it. But then with some people it s all about themselves....

Posted by
5309 posts

Paul, hemorrhaging money? On a good year their margin is 9%, some years as low as 3%.

Last year IAG (British Airways parent company) made a profit of over €3.2bn, not exactly sailing close to the wind!

Currently BA have a "luxury sale" on and business class flights (and holidays) to Hong Kong and China are relatively cheap in comparison to other destinations and certainly more of a bargain than pre Covid19 outbreak.

Posted by
7049 posts

Regardless of the coronavirus, there are always relatively affordable places to travel in the world. In Europe, try any former Yugoslavian country like Bosnia. Although I would not want to tax another country's (especially a poor one's) health system right now - they'll have enough to deal with if they have local cases, let alone trying to deal with tourists.

Posted by
2829 posts

Several airlines are offering fares with special cancellation/rescheduling flexibility if you buy tickets soon for travel until summer. Hotels in most affected areas are also dropping prices significantly for future bookings for cancellable/refundable fares. The combination of both might lower travel costs for people who are time-flexible.

Posted by
5687 posts

I wasn't actually thinking about going to Europe this month - maybe early May, when things might still be slow but the region may be recovering. I'll bet the locals in the tourism business would not be unhappy to see me.

Posted by
23 posts

I'm watching all airports in Washington DC for a window in the first two weeks of June - but as of yet not much. Delta' s prices have risen, in fact.

I have flown into various parts of Italy and out of Madrid, back to DC, in the first two weeks of June for the last four years for under 1000 bucks

The airlines control the cards for the next few months ---- and unless it becomes more definitive that we will get a solid summer traveling season, they can keep the price of international flights high and hope that handfuls of people desperate to travel will pluck the high priced tickets. Once the everything settles down and gets back to normal is when they'll add more flights and lower the prices to fill them up. That way they can hopefully gain back a small amount of lost revenue on increased volume.

It's my bet though that at the very least the airlines will get a partial government bailout.....or at the minimum zero interest loans directly from the Fed window.

Posted by
18202 posts

they'll have enough to deal with if they have local cases, let alone
trying to deal with tourists.

Agnes, keep your trip to 2 weeks or less and you wont be sick till you get home. It's my plan.

Posted by
1040 posts

I've seen several offers from smaller businesses who need cash flow, and I'm inclined to support them. One of my favourite day tours ever was with Gusto Wine Tours in Umbria. Pretty much all of their reservations for the year have cancelled and there are no new bookings. They would love people to buy gift cards for later so they can eat now. I'm about to do that, as I've met them in person, love their work, and want to help.

And SandyO just posted a similar buy-now-use-later offer from Eating Europe.

I think there will be more of these, and if you can verify it is a legitimate small business, I think this is a better option than sending Red Cross packages later...

Posted by
3054 posts

New development: Israel will quarantine all arrivals to Israel from all places.

That is going to put the complete kibosh on all Israeli tourism for the foreseeable future. I see other countries doing this as well.

Posted by
27245 posts

I agree with Nelly: It's a wonderful idea to pre-purchase services you know you'll be able to use when the situation normalizes. I'm not sure, though, how to be reasonably sure the company will be (back) in business. I guess it's easiest for those that are labor-intensive (offering walking tours and the like), because they aren't dependent on physical assets (vans, etc.) that might need to be sold in the interim.

Posted by
1040 posts

Here are some blog posts from reliable bloggers (i.e., have been around & I've been reading for years) who are offering other ideas of how to help small Italian businesses. I just want to stress that I am only posting information from people I have either met personally or followed for multiple years in various media. And just for discussion. I am not soliciting on behalf of anyone.

For myself, I've bought a gift card from Gusto Wine Tours and a subscription to FAI, which supports renovation and maintenance of historical buildings in Italy. That's about all I can do at the moment until/unless I officially cancel my May trip.

Girl in Florence

Revealed Rome

Posted by
4382 posts

James E, they're saying that the incubation period is usually only 5-11 days. Better shorten that trip considerably.