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As far as COVID is concerned, Spring Break in 2021 represents version 2.0. Last year, images of Spring Breakers flooding beaches amidst the early rise in coronavirus cases is easy to remember. But a great deal has changed in a year’s time. Global travel in 2020 fell over 65 percent, and the hotel industry saw 1 billion rooms go unbooked. Already, searches for leisure travel flights for March have fallen by 76 percent compared to last year. (For more on how leisure travel is eclipsing business travel, check out this Bold Business story.) All of this suggests that Spring Break travel and vacations won’t be the same as they were in 2020. And these aren’t the only indications.

For those wishing to escape for Spring Break in 2021, several new barriers and restrictions will limit choices. But that doesn’t mean Spring Break travel won’t exist at all. It simply means opportunities for these much-needed getaways will be different. Several companies have recognized this well in advance and are adapting accordingly. Some are creating unique and innovative experiences for students and families alike. Therefore, before booking this year’s annual Spring excursion, it’s worth checking out the options.

“I think they are eager to redress some of the impressions last year when students were going wild.” – Lynn Pasquerella, President of the Association of American Colleges & Universities

A Different Type of Spring Break in 2021

Traditionally, Spring Break is a time where college students travel to vacation destination to release some stress. For a week or longer, thousands flock to beaches, resorts, cruises, and other places to have a little fun. But this won’t be an option for many college students as several universities have changed their schedules. Places like the University of Michigan, Florida State University, and Boston College have eliminated traditional week-long breaks. Instead, they are opting for “wellness days” scattered throughout the semester. As a result, many students will not even have an opportunity for Spring Break travel in a normal sense.

Someone packed for a pandemic-shaped vacation
Another year, another spring break affected by the pandemic. What’s in story for spring break in 2021?

Of course, virtual education classrooms do allow many to have greater flexibility in where they travel. However, most destinations have imposed a number of restrictions due to COVID making Spring Break in 2021 different as well. In Los Cabos, Mexico, bars and restaurants must close at midnight, and police enforce beach restrictions to 40-percent capacity. South Padre Island in Texas prohibits groups of more than people and also require social distancing on beaches. Because of these changes, many students are foregoing traditional Spring Break travel altogether.

“The seasonal escape is pivoting to domestic drive markets, private vacation rentals, or nothing at all.” – Erika Richter, Senior Communications Director, American Society of Travel Advisor

Creative Spring Break Travel in 2021

Faced with another year where Spring Break travel will be down, many businesses are offering some creative alternatives. Notably, many students and families are choosing to stay closer to home or enjoy a staycation. Understanding this, packages are now being offered by some hotels to attract locals and regional visitors alike. For example, YOTEL Boston has staycation packages that include museum tours and other activities in the city. Hotel Kansas City offers a similar Spring Break package as well. As a result, people can choose a safer and less complicated way to escape and enjoy some vacation relief.

Spring Break in 2021 is also seeing other types of options for students and families to consider. Coffee Project New York is offering a Spring Break package where guests become experts in latte-making. Rippleffect, based in Portland, Maine, is providing an escape where you can learn to ice climb with your own COVID-safe group. Many of these may only be day-events or last a few days, but this aligns well with college wellness days. Thus, they still let students unwind a bit and escape the demands of coursework.

“The region expects 2021 spring break travel to mirror the Christmas and New Year holidays, when occupancy reached 50 percent. This would be a significant improvement over last year’s 12 percent, one of the lowest points of the year.” – Daryl Cronk, Senior Director of Market Research for Visit Orlando

Some Resemblance of Normal Spring Break Travel

Not everywhere is shut down for Spring Break in 2021. In fact, some popular destinations remain accessible for Spring Break travel this year with a bit of pre-planning. For example, a number of islands in the Caribbean are inviting Spring Breakers to visit as long as they prove they’re not infectious. St. Barts, Antigua, and St. Lucia all require a negative COVID tests before arrival that varies between 3 and 7 days. Likewise, cities such as Chicago and Aspen also invite tourists with negative COVID tests prior to arrival. These individuals can avoid the required quarantine by doing so.

For Spring Break travelers choosing these options, it’s important to appreciate new U.S. restrictions when re-entering the states. Everyone, including U.S. citizens, must provide proof they are COVID negative before returning. But most places recruiting tourists have mechanisms in place to make this easy. For those looking for Spring Break travel without these inconveniences, private Airbnb rentals and other private vacation rentals still remain an option domestically. And membership tourism that offers greater security and COVID protections is also on the rise. (For more on the rise of tourism bubbles, check out this Bold Business story.) Depending on what someone wants, Spring Break in 2021 can be what they make it.

Safety First for Spring Break in 2021

If there is one theme for Spring Break in 2021, it’s safety first. Nationally and internationally, everyone has become accustomed to COVID restrictions, like it or not. Therefore, it’s not terribly surprising that Spring Break travel this year will look much different. In fact, many predict Spring Break travel will involve higher numbers of older adults who’ve already received the coronavirus vaccine. Regardless, dynamic businesses are adapting and meeting consumer needs during this time of uncertainty. Regardless what Spring Break travelers choose to do this year, they will continue to have a number of options. The business of Spring Break in 2021 may have changed, but it is certainly not vanished.

 

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