This is the question that we are hearing over and over here in the Discover Corps HQ. With travel picking up and vaccine distribution increasing, summer travel is proving to be the reprieve from the, let’s be honest, monotonous year that many of us experienced in 2020. Summer is also when most families get out into the world and use the time to bond, grow and discover.
So, where can we go? While this is changing every day, there are now clear indicators as to which regions and destinations will be the most stable, safe and predictable. That grand European adventure? Nope, that will definitely be off the cards this summer. An open-air safari in the wilds of the Serengeti? Yes, that is a very realistic option. Below are our current forecasts for this summer based on intelligence gathered from our industry partnerships, global suppliers and travel resources that we consult daily.
Out of all major regions in the world, Europe currently holds the least promise for a smooth summer reopening. Largely the result of a sluggish vaccine rollout and strict national border closures, Europe will most likely only open to intra-EU travel this summer. There may be certain countries that open more than others. For example, Greece is mulling a late May opening while Iceland is welcoming travelers who are fully vaccinated. However, the ability to travel to and within Europe this summer will be significantly curtailed posing a significant financial impact on tourism in the region given that this is the most popular time of year for Americans to visit the continent. This also means that we will see Americans looking elsewhere for their summer travel plans
We expect (and are already seeing) a significant boost in tourism in a select number of Latin American countries. Largely due to their proximity to the U.S. and ease of travel (with most large airports offering direct flights throughout the region), Latin America is poised to offer a safe option for Americans looking to venture out of the country. Costa Rica sits at the top of our list having imposed extremely safe measures for incoming travelers and boasting a tourism infrastructure that is unmatched in the region. The Galapagos is another destination that is currently booking out on our end largely due to the open-air, outdoor landscape and extremely low infection rates. With a pause in tourism over the past year, wildlife viewing is at an all time high in both destinations.
African safari destinations including Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa have been hit hard by the pause in tourism. Given that many of these parks depend on the tourism dollars to fund their conservation efforts, concern mounted that this would diminish their ability to combat ongoing issues including poaching. However, we are seeing the opposite in certain regions, particularly Kenya, where interest in safari travel has grown at a rate we haven’t seen in the past. Largely due to the outdoor, isolated nature of safaris and the lodges that dot the reserves, safaris are an extremely safe bet for travel this summer. Similar to Latin America, with tourism numbers lower than usual and wildlife rebounding during the border closures, it is a great time to visit these uncrowded parks teeming with wildlife.
With the Olympics planned in Tokyo this summer, all eyes are on the region to see what measures are imposed for travel both to and within the region. Additionally, East and Southeast Asia as a whole have been extremely cautious with regards to borders throughout the pandemic and are not in a hurry to open to broad international travel. We expect this to be the case throughout the summer with incremental openings in the region, but many of the current policies still in place. For example, Thailand currently imposes a mandatory quarantine for arriving travelers and are considering relaxing this slowly into the fall. This will allow tourism to resume, but at a much slower pace than other parts of the world. Australia is also forecasted to follow a similar gradual re-opening later in 2021.
The past year has seen unprecedented growth in domestic U.S. tourism, particularly in National Parks throughout the Western half of the country. This comes as no surprise as many of us were looking for any way to get out of the house and into nature, safely. This summer, we expect to see this trend continue with many National Parks hitting capacity as they did last summer and airlines continuing to adjust routes to serve these areas. Alaska has proven to be our top destination for this summer, nearly selling out all dates as we are in the process of adding more (let us know ASAP if this is a destination you are considering!). Hawaii is also a prime summer destination with strong safety protocol in place and a landscape that is unmatched in the U.S.
Regardless of where you choose to travel this summer, we are excited to finally be exploring again and re-connecting with the world at a time when it matters most. If you have any additional questions about travel this summer, just let us know – you can always schedule a time to chat here!