Around the world, cities are taking a pounding from Covid-19 as travelers are avoiding visiting large conurbations during the global pandemic. In turn, tourism numbers in metropolises have plummeted. In Madrid, tourist arrivals dropped by 63.8% during the first half of 2020.
The components that usually make for a great city escape are now the very reasons travelers are staying away. Crowded museums, restaurants and public transportation aren’t appealing in the time of Covid-19 when we’re encouraged to socially distance ourselves to lower the risk of contagion.
Avoiding the big city
“Many cities have been hit hard by the pandemic, so it’s not a good look to go gallivanting around while people are dying,” says New York-based travel writer and editor Teddy Minford.
Minford canceled a trip to Mexico City in March but is eager to visit as soon as it’s safe to do so. “I’m hoping to travel there as soon as I’m welcome in order to support one of my favorite travel destinations with tourism dollars,” she says.
Mexico has been hard hit by the virus with 761,665 reported cases and 79,088 deaths. The population of Mexico City is estimated at nearly 22 million people making it difficult to avoid crowded places. Trips to Mexico’s capital usually include visits to world-famous museums, street-side taquerias, and day trips out to ancient Indigenious sites such as the Teotihuacán pyramids.
Mexico is open for American tourists but as Minford doesn’t yet feel it’s responsible to visit Mexico City she’s been visiting family in rural areas of the US. “A remote visit feels safer. The chances of accidentally getting somebody sick feels lower simply because you’re barely seeing anybody.”
What’s even open?
The decline in city vacations is a result of people heeding advice regarding avoiding crowds, indoor activities and high-risk attractions. Travelers are also deterred by the fear of getting stuck in a city that’s liable to go back into quarantine.
There’s also uncertainty about which attractions are open for visitors as many major cities are under partial lockdown. “We haven’t booked a single city-focused vacation. Fear of the virus has a lot to do with it, but, it’s about missing out on the actual experiences,” says Sarah Groen, owner of Bell & Bly Travel. For her clients, trips to Chicago, London, Beijing and New York are off the table.
Coronavirus has halted the urban retreat. Hotel occupancy declined 77.6% in municipal markets. Rural counterparts are performing better. For example, the Hilton Garden Inn Auburn in Auburn, NY (pop. 26,000) told CNN Travel that the hotel’s occupancy rates are leading the top 2% of