Consultant: Vaccine Distribution Slowing Travel Recovery


The introduction of COVID-19 vaccines has likely slowed down the recovery of the travel and tourism industry, as people “wait and see” what the travel industry will look like in the era of the vaccine, Managing Director and Partner of Boston Consulting Group Marguerite Fitzgerald said yesterday, adding that data compiled by his company has determined that global tourism numbers will not return to 2019 levels until 2023 or 2024.

Fitzgerald, who was a guest of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) seminar on vaccines and travel in the Caribbean, said a slump in US visitors to the Caribbean has already been felt in the new year, after travel to the region improved in December.

“Vaccines slowed down some of the tourism recovery,” said Fitzgerald.

“Now the travelers see a light and so now we see a hesitation, or what we call the ‘wait and see’.”

She said poll numbers have shown that 80 percent of people interested in cruising “said it will be 2022 at least before they start cruising again”.

According to Fitzgerald – who said she has worked alongside cruise companies through the pandemic – in July 2020, 50 percent of past cruisers said they would want to wait for a vaccine before boarding a cruise line again. In October, that number dropped to 40 percent, until the news of vaccine distribution broke. Then the number returned to 50 percent.

Fitzgerald maintained that percentage change represents those who decided they will wait and see where vaccination efforts take the travel industry.

Despite her assertion that tourism will not rebound to 2019 levels for another two to three years, Fitzgerald said the Caribbean remains in an advantaged position given its proximity to the United States.

She said Americans would likely choose travel to the Caribbean over places like Barcelona or Paris, because of the low risk of becoming stranded far from home and the safe feeling the destination provides in terms of low-density destination options.

“Consumers miss leisure travel more than anything,” said Fitzgerald. “We really feel it is going to come back… the Caribbean is seen as less risky.”

Chester Robards
The Nassau Guardian
Published: January 28, 2021