ALBERT LEA, Minnesota - The pandemic has forced the closure of many popular tourist destinations across the globe, airlines have either cancelled or flown mostly empty flights, and cruise lines were forced to cancel or move trips.
However, despite the pandemic, the future is looking sunny for those in the travel industry, at least according to one Southern Minnesota travel agent.
David Nelson and his staff at 4 Seasons Travel have been working with customers to cancel or reschedule vacation packages. He was also on a cruise ship in Hawaii in February, at the time the coronavirus began to grow into a global concern.
"We're anticipating that travel will pick up by the end of the summer and into the fall with people making plans and reservations for winter trips."
And that includes cruises.
"We see cruises coming back strongly, and we see the typical family vacations to Mexico, the Caribbean, also coming back."
He's already been receiving travel package inquiries from customers who need an escape.
"We don't see Americans wanting to stay home. America has been built on people traveling, people going about. People can't sit in their houses, they're going to want to get the economy going, and they're going to try get back to some normalcy, and that includes taking vacations and taking trips. I think people are going to be more selective, more particular and concerned about things, but I don't think everybody's going to stay home."
With more of the country reopening, Nelson predicts a pent-up demand that could carry into next year.
"I had two ladies standing in front of my office last week. I got out of my car, and they were asking me, 'when are you going to open? We want to travel, we want to go!' Hopefully, that's the attitude with people."
If a trip is in mind this year, Nelson advises travelers to purchase travel insurance, and call as far ahead as possible.
"At times like this, it is very good to have a travel agent or tour operator in your court. We do the communicating with the airlines, the cruise companies and tour companies."