Airbnb CEO: ‘Travel will never, ever go back to the way it was’

Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said that global travel may never fully recover from the coronavirus pandemic, but he anticipates more travel from tourists within their own countries to smaller communities. 

“I will go on the record to say that travel will never, ever go back to the way it was pre-COVID; it just won’t,” Chesky told Axios in an interview published Sunday. “There are sometimes months when decades of transformation happen.”

Chesky said that people are “not getting on airplanes” to cross borders, but are rather traveling by car to “communities that are 200 miles away or less.” 

“People will, one day, get back on planes,” Chesky said. “But one of the things that I do think is a fairly permanent shift is … a redistribution of where travelers go.”

Chesky told Axios in the past, travelers limited themselves to “like 50 or 100 cities.” 

“You know, everyone goes to Rome, Paris, London, they stay in the hotel district, they get on the double-decker bus. They wait in line to get a selfie in front of a landmark,” he said. 

“I think that’s going to get smaller as a percentage of travel in the future, and I think it’s going to get somewhat displaced, or at least balanced, by people visiting smaller communities,” he added. 

Chesky also said he sees a potential boom for National Parks as the culture around travel shifts. 

“Most people haven’t gone to them,” he said. “And it’s pretty cheap … You don’t need to buy an airplane ticket. You can usually drive because most people live within 200 miles of a park.”

Globally, there are more than 10 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly half a million fatalities, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

The European Union is set to ban most American travelers from entering when it reopens, The New York Times reported on Friday. 

As other countries see cases decrease, the U.S. has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases mainly driven by increases in the South and West.

Tags Airbnb Brian Chesky Coronavirus

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