January 28, 2021

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Just Do Travel

The Travel Industry Won’t Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels Until 2024, Say Experts

3 min read

To say that 2020 has been especially brutal to the travel industry is a massive understatement.

With the pandemic making travel risky, and mounting job losses making travel unaffordable for many, the travel industry in the United States has taken a staggering 45% hit.

According to the U.S. Travel Industry, travel-related jobs have been reduced by 40% (3.5 million!) this year as the world seemed to change overnight.

The New York Times claims that experts expect that the travel industry won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024. And that it might be too late for those relying on travel for a living to fully rebound.

Disney is Massively Affected by the Implosion of the Travel Industry

(Photo Credit: Disney)

For Disney, this has been absolutely catastrophic to their business. With all of their theme parks closed worldwide save for Walt Disney World in Florida, and cruise lines put on ice indefinitely, Disney+ has been their only saving grace.

The Disney theme parks often made up deficits elsewhere in the company, and they can no longer rely on that. At least for the immediate future.

Disney, of course, has eliminated over 32,000 jobs… many of those in theme parks, including Disneyland, which is closed indefinitely.

But there are countless lost jobs reliant on Disney travel that aren’t with the company itself. Non-Disney hotels, restaurants, outside vendors, contractors and more are laying off as out-of-state travel is discouraged by many state governments.

Then of course there are Disney Travel Agents, who are definitely feeling the pinch.

In the Times article, Greg Antonelle of Mickey Travels talks about his struggles with bookings.

Greg Antonelle, chief executive of Mickey Travels, a New Jersey-based travel agency that helps travelers plan Disney trips, said that when the pandemic started, some people were canceling trips with the hope of rebooking soon; others were booking new trips for later in 2020, not thinking they’d have to reschedule them.

In recent weeks, however, Mr. Antonelle said that anxious would-be travelers with previously booked trips have pushed those to next year. He expects them to travel when a vaccine is widely available.

“People, early on, seemed OK with the cancellations because they understood the severity of the pandemic,” Mr. Antonelle said. “They still understand the volatility of this pandemic, but many people who have been working remotely, home-schooling and in quarantine are really looking forward to traveling.”

Disney seems to be betting on travel returning to normal… someday. According to CEO Bob Chapek, Disney is still planning on building its new cruise ships and launching them in 2024 and 2025.

Clearly Disney intends to pick up with their left off with their travel business in a few years time and, thankfully for them, have Disney+ to help them weather storm.

Sadly, many other travel workers aren’t so fortunate, and we won’t know the full extent of the damage COVID-19 has wrought on the travel industry until the pandemic is in the rearview mirror.

Hopefully that day is sooner rather than later.

[Source: NY Times]