The Terror of Variants: The fear generated among nations throughout the world by the recent emergence of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 virus has understandably shaken the confidence of those who had begun to contemplate their winter and, more likely, summer 2022 holiday.
Omicron seems to have dampened the enthusiasm among holidaymakers who have been anxious to satisfy the pent-up desire to travel since the spring of 2020 when it broke out all over the world. Potential visitors to the United States were heartened by the opening of U.S. borders on Nov. 8. The action unleashed a tremendous wave of interest in, and bookings to, the USA by overseas travelers.
To complicate the matter, however, new regulations for visiting the USA were put into place beginning December 6. Since then, air travelers aged two and older, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, are required to show documentation of a negative viral test result taken within one day of the flight’s departure to the United States before boarding. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight. That includes all travelers—U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and foreign nationals.
Even so, the enthusiasm to visit the United States remains—even as country markets throughout the world have imposed or re-imposed more stringent entry requirements for international travelers.
Setback? Or Opportunity? The U.S. government waited longer than the governments of most major countries to lift or ease border restrictions. And the additional new regulations a month later, on December 6, were more accommodating to international travelers. The situation now leaves North America as a prime and popular destination for overseas visitors who still want to schedule a holiday overseas early next year.
But there is a change in what visitors to United States want. For the past year-and-a-half of seminars, webinars and virtual online meetings among the professionals in the U.S. travel trade who market and promote the USA, there has been a change in the profile of visitors to the USA from key country markets—especially among European markets and, in particular, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
Tour operators who sell Visit USA product to these markets have found that prospective U.S. visitors have shifted their preference to itineraries that feature smaller, rural destinations and outdoor activities and experiences—that is, away from heavily populated metropolitan areas. New York City is a singular exception. One reason is that that so many international travelers who come to the United States enter the country through airports in New York (JFK) and Newark (EWR).
Also, as airlines have begun to return to near-normal schedules for international services, both large and small carriers have, for the most part, maintained additional route service to smaller U.S. cities and towns across the United States that they created during the worst part of the pandemic. These places are better equipped to accommodate travelers who go “off the beaten path,” which is what the newly profiled travelers want.
The sum, the answer, or the “bottom line” to the queries has been answer is: Now is a good time gear up and put into action those programs aimed at tour operators and travel agents who sell the U.S. in Europe. Other countries cannot offer what the USA can offer.
Question: Where do you turn to find the best way to maximize the appeal of your destination as the visitor profile of travelers has changed? ¹
Answer: Untraveled. It is a content platform designed to inspire responsible and purposeful travel to lesser-known destinations around the world. A relatively new application of technology to what used to be an exclusively face-to-face approach to challenges, Untraveled is defined by Hermann Global as a response to the emergence of over-tourism, which has become a significant challenge to both travelers and destinations around the world in recent years.
Untraveled is our effort to combat that, by educating travelers about new places to visit, new times to visit familiar places, and practices to carry with them around the world. These stories will help travelers to discover new places and preserve remarkable corners of the world, all while having profound and important experiences. — Florian Herrmann, co-founder and CEO of Hermann Global
¹ One possible preliminary path that travel marketers might take as they explore the profiles of different international source markets is to the United States’ National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO), which has market profiles of 33 countries. You can find it here.