As we prepare for year three of running tours during a pandemic, we've come to the conclusion that international travel is possible.
Beppe Salerno, Co-Ower of Tourissimo
December 15, 2021
Covid has changed many things, including the way we think as travelers. Especially when it comes to international travel. Rational and irrational responses to the pandemic are now under better control, though.
After almost two years we are drawing some conclusions about traveling from the USA to Europe in the time of Covid-19. We would like to share those conclusions.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have shared our experience and first-hand information about Covid-19. This is practical information, as we live and work between the USA and Europe and, therefore, we travel to and from Europe often. (See our blogs about travel early in the pandemic: Boston to Turin --- Turin to Boston).
While traveling back and forth, we had to cope with restrictions and constantly monitored the rising cases and the pace of vaccination. We learned immediately about new rules that were put in place. The pace of change was disconcerting at times and uncertainty was the new norm.
More than once, we shared more updated information than what was found on institutional websites, airline websites, and news outlets. An example: we were reading the new decrees from the Italian government as soon as they came out (in Italian) and we warned travelers of the changes before their airlines were able to react and post the updates. We felt a responsibility in delivering accurate and timely information to our guests. People relied on us, on Tourissimo, to plan and travel safely, but also without risk of losing their vacation money.
The whole process has been frustrating and useful at the same time because what we were studying formed the basis of our Covid-19 pre-departure page for guests (to inform travelers if they could travel and how) and Covid-19 prevention protocols for the tours that we were able to run.
In 2021, in spite of Covid, we were able to operate tours for a short window in the spring and then in the second part of the season (September-October) at a nearly pre-Covid-19 pace. It wasn’t easy, but we did it and it was quite rewarding and special.
Let’s face it, Italy’s economy is very dependent on tourism (tourism is more than 13% of GDP).
The coronavirus pandemic hit the Italian tourism industry hard in 2020 and 2021. In April 2020, accommodation numbers were hitting a record low of 79 thousand. Over the summer months of 2020 and 2021, this scenario improved. In July 2021, arrivals in tourist accommodations rose to 13.8 million, denoting an increase over 2020 but remaining below pre-pandemic levels. The rest of the year felt safe but slower than usual. The Delta variant spared Italy altogether.
The upside - for travel - is that those who traveled to Italy got to visit places that, while usually crowded with tourists, offered a quiet and welcoming feel. It has been a truly unique time for visitors. Heather and I had a fantastic time in Venice and on the Amalfi coast. It was unreal and we had the best time.
I don’t need to brag about Italy’s handling of Covid-19 since the vaccines became available, but data are undeniably putting an enviable spotlight on the Bel Paese.
Travel demand is strong and we don’t need external data to see that. People want to travel and Italy is top of mind. Furthermore, small group active travel seems the way to go and we are well-positioned for that.
Considering all of the following elements, Tourissimo is well-positioned for a great recovery year in 2022:
- Outdoor travel
- Active, in nature and/or secondary destinations
- In small or private groups
- In a country where vaccination is closing to 90% (of the eligible population)
Travel is within reach, and we are prepared to help you through the process.