Taking a summer vacation is more difficult – but not impossible – while still taking precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19, says a Virginia Tech travel and tourism expert.

“Do your homework and look for places where smart protocols are in place and you can get away safely. There are many places where folks are diligently observing best practices,” said Nancy McGehee, a professor and department head of the Howard Feiertag Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Virginia Tech. “Follow the big three - masks, hand washing and social distancing - and incidents are remaining low. Unfortunately there are also high-congestion areas combined with a lack of best practices that have resulted in the spikes in COVID-19 cases.”

Quoting McGehee   

“In general, major urban areas are suffering the most. New York City is still hurting from low occupancy rates and the closure of Broadway and other major attractions. Los Angeles is struggling as well, with major attractions in the area closed or severely limited.”

“The RV and camping segments are doing well overall. Agritourism and other outdoor activities are enjoying some success, although still not to the degree we are typically used to. State and national parks are also enjoying some success.”

“Interestingly, the long-term stay market continues to be fairly strong. Additionally, folks are opting to rent free-standing homes instead of hotel or resort rooms, so those markets are not feeling the pain quite as much. “

“With limits on international travel, it’s definitely a time for airlines to think about the future. With grounded planes, what can they do to prepare for the inevitable spike in travel that will occur once this is over? What technologies and policies can be in place? The same with airports. How can they become more streamlined, low-touch, and modernized?”

Nancy Gard McGehee is professor and department head of the Howard Feiertag Hospitality and Tourism Management program in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. Her research focus is rural tourism development at both the domestic and international levels.   

Read Nancy McGehee’s bio

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To secure a live or recorded interview with Nancy McGehee, contact Bill Foy by email, or by phone at 540-998-0288.   

More: Find additional Virginia Tech expertise related to COVID-19 here.

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