How the pandemic may change where people choose to travel

This July 17, 2017 photo shows the main square in the village of Assisi, Italy, in the Umbria region. The small town has been a popular pilgrimage site for hundreds of years, which home of several important Catholic saints, including St. Francis. (Albert Stumm via AP)

When people begin making travel plans again, the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly have an impact where they decide to go. A Maryland-based travel expert shares his views on how and where vacationers will spend their holidays.

“I fully expect that when people start planning new trips, they are going to change their patterns,” said Guido Adelfio, owner of Bethesda Travel Center.

Adelfio said people are already inquiring about the fall, and he expects many of the bookings to focus on areas where travelers can socially distance. His travel agency specializes in trips to Europe, and he said the town of Umbria in central Italy is an example of where people will go.

“Lots of space, lots of countryside, olive trees, little medieval towns and lack of crowding,” Adelfio said.

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Other destinations he expects to book are Burgundy in France, rural Ireland, some less crowded spots in Spain and even Sicily in Italy.

Some of the bigger international destinations are trying to adapt so visitors feel safe going there, according to Adelfio.

One example he said is the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, which is not only limiting the number of people inside at one time but are also modifying galleries.

“They’re taking a room that may have had three, four, five works of art exhibited in one gallery, and reducing that to one work of art in order to promote social distancing,” he said.

Also, restaurants and cafes are trying to adapt, which includes not seating people at every table, putting up Plexiglas separators between tables, and having staff wear masks.

“People are going to see things in a little more personalized way, a little less crowded,” Adelfio said.

Adelfio said he doesn’t expect travel groups of 30 or more for some time, but in talking to customers, he knows many are ready to get out of their homes and travel.

“They want to be away from wherever their house is, somewhere enjoying Europe, sipping cappuccino in the square and seeing the Ufizzi when it is uncrowded, which is the best way to see it,” Adelfio said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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