As we enter the first summer of this new era of pandemics, a tenuous easing of travel restrictions has begun. This month, the countries of the European Union will reopen their internal borders, and they plan to allow travel from outside the block some time in July. Singapore and China have begun permitting essential travel between them, but only for passengers who test negative for the coronavirus, use a contact-tracing app, and don’t deviate from their itinerary. Iceland will allow tourists, but it plans to test them for the virus at the airport.
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Grounded for many months, airlines are beefing up their summer schedules—though the number of flights will be a fraction of their pre-pandemic frequency. Airports are still mostly ghost towns (some have even been taken over by wildlife), and international long-distance travel is all but dead. Around the globe, the collapse of the tourist economy has bankrupted hotels, restaurants, bus operators, and car rental agencies—and thrown an estimated 100 million people out of work.
With uncertainty and fear hanging over traveling, no one knows how quickly tourism and business travel will recover, whether we will still fly as much, and what the travel experience will look like once new health security measures are in place. One thing is certain: Until then, there will be many more canceled vacations, business trips, weekend getaways, and family reunions.
To look beyond the summer and help us think about how the pandemic will permanently change the way we travel, Foreign Policy asked seven prominent experts to look into their crystal balls.