As the spring break travel season approaches, reports that a cluster of coronavirus cases emerged in Italy over the weekend has some travelers questioning whether it’s safer to avoid destinations that previously raised few concerns.
The vast majority of the 79,331 cases of COVID-19 confirmed worldwide have been in China, where the virus was first reported. But the outbreak’s reach is spreading, with cases reported in 29 countries, including dozens of new cases in Italy.
U.S. health officials have only warned against travel to mainland China, with lower-level travel advisories for a handful of other destinations in Asia -- not popular spring break destinations like Mexico or the Caribbean.
Data from travel app Hopper suggests concerns about the virus aren’t keeping travelers home. Searches for flights from the U.S. to international destinations are only down about 3% compared with the first week of January, and most of that is driven by reduced demand for trips to China, said Hayley Berg, economist at Hopper.
A handful of travelers postponed spring trips to Japan, but few seemed nervous about destinations outside Asia until cases were reported in Italy, said Randy Lynch, CEO of Chicago-based private luxury travel firm Kipling & Clark. He has started scouting backup options in the Southern Hemisphere, which doesn’t seem as affected by the outbreak.
“I think most people are in that semi-pause situation,” he said. “They want to go, they’re just waiting to see what happens."
Here’s what you should know about travel given COVID-19.