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Airbnb CEO: "Travel Will Never, Ever Go Back To The Way It Was Pre-COVID"

“But one of the things that I do think is a fairly permanent shift is … a redistribution of where travelers go.”    

Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said the global travel and tourism industry might never fully recover from the virus-induced economic downturn, though he tells Axios in a Zoom interview, there’s a glimmer of hope as travel trends will shift more domestically, and to smaller communities in a post-corona world. 

“I will go on the record to say that travel will never, ever go back to the way it was pre-COVID; it just won’t,” Chesky said. “There are sometimes months when decades of transformation happen.”

He said, “people are getting on airplanes, they’re not crossing borders, they’re not meaningfully traveling to cities, they’re not traveling for business.”  

Instead, “they’re getting in cars. They’re traveling to communities that are 200 miles away or less. These are usually very small communities. They’re staying in homes and they’re staying longer.”

Readers may recall, we noted in late March how city dwellers in Southern California were fleeing metro areas for rentals on the outskirts of Joshua Tree National Park, which was a move to isolate oneself from the virus pandemic. 

“As the pandemic sweeps across California’s largest cities, residents are fleeing their urban settings to isolated communities in the Mojave Desert or the rugged Sierra Nevada. The hope is that a remote area can reduce their transmission risk.”

“People will, one day, get back on planes,” Chesky said. “But one of the things that I do think is a fairly permanent shift is … a redistribution of where travelers go.”

“You know, everyone goes to Rome, Paris, London, they stay in the hotel district, they get on the double-decker bus. They wait in line to get a selfie in front of a landmark,” he said. 

“I think that’s going to get smaller as a percentage of travel in the future, and I think it’s going to get somewhat displaced, or at least balanced, by people visiting smaller communities,” he added. 

The redistribution Chesky describes is a reversal of international trips to more domestic ones, but instead of travelers going to big cities and famous landmarks – they will vacation in rural communities. The days of vacationing in New York, London, Paris, Rome, and Hong Kong are limited. 

So who are the winners and losers in this emerging travel trend Chesky sees playing out?

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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June 30, 2020

Even before Cov-19 my thoughts were – what to see in capitals today? McDonald, Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Guess… Even thought I love those brands I am enough with shopping streets. I want to feel the local life and energy.

June 30, 2020

This guy is a moron. Real pandemics have killed millions of people. Yet, people traveled afterwards. Propaganda influence is what has changed. Live in fear they tell you. Things will change again.

Sally Snyder
Sally Snyder
June 30, 2020

Here is an article that looks at the new measures required for travellers as recommended by the International Air Travel Association:

Given what happened to our flying experience after the events of September 11, 2001, we can pretty much assure ourselves that flying will not only be more expensive, but it will be a much less pleasant experience than it already is and the government will have far more information about us than is any of their business

Sue Rarick
Sue Rarick
June 30, 2020

We used to take a European trip about once a year. Hubby is from the Netherlands and I have lived in both Ireland and England. Ireland is a woke POS country since joining the Eu – will never go there again. London is more like India than England now – scratch that. Paris??? Last time there we had 4 protest marches banging and beating down the streets. Goodbye my once favorite city of all time. There is still Prague and Budapest and we were planning on Moscow/st pete before covid-19 hit. But now face masks are mandatory– I have half… Read more »

Reply to  Sue Rarick
July 1, 2020

Mandatory masks in Moscow won’t be forever. Those two cities are amazing! You can’t take it all in within one trip. I always recommend the river cruises from Moscow to St. Petersburg. They stop at a lot of beautiful cities, monasteries, and churches. Valaam is a favorite. Where I live, in Moscow, it is peaceful.

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