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The outbreak of the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease that it causes has led to major changes throughout the world. Bars and restaurants are closed in many nations, as are churches and mosques. Unemployment has increased rapidly in countries across the globe as entire segments of the economy have shut down for weeks. One of the hardest hit industries has been the travel industry. Airlines are still flying, and hotels are still open. However, travel is at a near standstill.

Travel and the World Economy

It’s estimated that nearly 10% of the world’s economy is based upon travel and tourism. Therefore, many events that cut into travel are likely to hurt economic growth worldwide. In addition to making up a sizable percentage of the world’s economy, the travel industry employs millions of people. Some estimates indicate that nearly 50 million people around the world could lose their travel-based jobs as a result of the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Flights Nearly Empty

As nations started to shut their borders, there was a scramble for many people to catch flights to their home countries. Since that initial flurry of flying activity, many flights have been nearly empty. Major airlines throughout the United States have cut back on the number of flights available with some airlines throughout the world having shuttered their operations entirely. There are some instances of flights that have carried a single passenger, and the overall number of passengers is down as much as 96% on a year-over-year basis.

Hotels Being Closed

Many hotels are also closed as a result of the novel coronavirus. With fewer travelers and state regulations regarding businesses, some hotel owners, including those affiliated with major chains, have closed down properties. Many of these hotels may not reopen until the virus is brought under control.

These are just a few of the major impacts that COVID-19 has had on the travel industry. One of the first major outbreaks outside of China occurred on a cruise ship. In recent weeks, other ships with infections had to extend their trips, as ports were unwilling to accept them. Some travel analysts believe that it will be at least 10 months before the industry returns to any semblance of normalcy. Should the virus continue to circulate in large numbers or reappear after initially subsiding, the disruptions to travel could continue even further into the future.