FRANKFURT – They are the annual journeys of late winter and early spring: Factory workers in China heading home for the Lunar New Year; American college students going on road trips and hitting the beach over spring break; Germans and Britons fleeing drab skies for some Mediterranean sun over Easter.
All of it canceled, in doubt or under pressure because of the coronavirus.
Amid fears of new variants of the virus, new restrictions on movement have hit just as people start to look ahead to what is usually a busy time of year for travel.
It means more pain for airlines, hotels, restaurants and tourist destinations that were already struggling more than a year into the pandemic, and a slower recovery for countries where tourism is a big chunk of the economy.
Colleges around the U.S. have been canceling spring break to discourage students from traveling. After Indiana University in Bloomington replaced its usual break with three “wellness days,” student Jacki Sylvester abandoned plans to celebrate her 21st birthday in Las Vegas.
Instead she will mark the milestone closer to home, with a day at the casino in French Lick, Indiana, just 50 miles (80 kilometers) away.
“I was really looking forward to getting out of here for a whole week. I wanted to be able to get some drinks and have fun — see the casinos and everything — and honestly see another city and just travel a little,” she said.
"At least it’s letting us have a little fun for a day in a condensed version of our original Vegas plans. Like, I’m still going to be able to celebrate. … I’m just forced to do it closer to home.”