Did these tourism and travel predictions come true?

A crystal ball on a beach at sunset gets Ellen thinking about travel predictions - and whether they came true.

Last Updated on May 27, 2023 by Ellen

I made some tourism and travel predictions back in June 2020 about some things that might change for us global wanderers and also for casual tourists. I called them educated guesses, since I don’t have a crystal ball.

So let’s take a look at my to see what, if anything, I got right.

My definition of tourism is a short trip. Maybe a week to several weeks. Travel, to me, is longer – months or years.

There will be some overlap – on airfare, for example. Both groups still need to fly for long-distance travel.

Tourism predictions

Fewer flights will likely mean higher prices

1. Flights are more expensive as airlines struggle through bankruptcy. This is a fact. I know because I’ve checked airfares often throughout the pandemic. Sure, there are regional ‘deals’ like a $20 flight from Caticlan to Manila in the Philippines, but for longer haul flights, there are fewer choices, and therefore, higher prices.

Self score: 1 point.

Tourism businesses will go bankrupt because of a slow recovery

2. Does anyone know of a successful tourism business these days? I don’t. Maybe travel-based health insurance companies… (did you see Marriott is selling travel insurance through a partnership with an insurance company?!)

Self score: 1 point (but you can debate me).

The tourism “industry” will focus on ‘travelers’ with higher incomes

3. It seems tourists are affluent. I looked at the World Tourism Organization’s International Tourism and COVID dashboard. It does not break down who’s traveling by income level, but I know the average American family is not thinking about a trip to Cambodia right now, where quarantines and extra insurance are mandatory. It gets expensive. And inflation is a global issue now, not only in the USA.

Still, when it’s open, I know families who’ve gone to Disney parks and other destinations, like Zion National Park and Florida beaches.

Self score: 1/2 point.

Countries with low virus levels likely will require quarantines

4. As of this writing, 53 countries are closed to tourists. There are 169 open with restrictions – everything from fully vaccinated to negative tests to quarantines, often with some combination. And there are only four countries on the planet open to tourists with no restrictions at all: my beloved Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador.

Thailand is a good example of trying a ‘hybrid’ quarantine situation to make trips more economically feasible for tourists. Flights, hotels, visas, quarantines, tests – it gets expensive. Even for a reasonably priced destination like Thailand.

Its ‘sandbox’ idea started with Phuket. Tourists could enjoy freedom of movement in a specific area without a lengthy quarantine. It recently expanded to Krabi and two other destinations.

Self score: definitely 1 full point.

Some countries might require travel health insurance — or even specific bank account funds

5. Some countries do indeed require travel health insurance now. It’s a costly travel deterrent for budget global roamers like Earth Vagabonds. After all, we pay out of pocket for health care as needed in whatever country we’ve been in (biopsies in Mexico, surgery in Croatia, oncologists all over, Xrays, CT scans, optometrist visits, dental work, etc.)

The list of countries that require insurance keeps growing. It currently includes Schengen countries, Turkey, Morocco, Croatia, Cuba, and many more.

Also, on the bank account bit, Mexico now requires an increased amount of monthly income or an increased total in investments for temporary residential visas and residential visas. The changes went into effect January 2022.

But what about tourist visas? Read on, friends.

Self score: 1 point.

Visa issuance will generally be more difficult for Americans

(Pay attention here, snowbird friends…)

6. Americans have long used Mexico’s 180-day tourist entry as a way to ‘live’ in Mexico. (We don’t need a visa, only a visitor card, called an FMM card.)

When six months are up, people simply ‘border jump’ into Belize or Guatemala or the U.S.A., and then re-enter Mexico. Some people do this with only a day trip! Then they go back to Mexico and pay a few bucks for another FMM card allowing 180 days.

I have recently read many horror stories of ‘tourists’ trying to get 180 days – and they were denied. Now, immigration agents want to see proof of onward travel and hotel accommodations as proof you have a 180-day plan of legitimate tourism.

Snowbirds in North America are now applying for the temporary residential visa as a way to get up to four years in Mexico, and you can come and go as you please after the initial application period. But you must show you are financially solvent.

As I mentioned, the financial amounts have increased starting in 2022. A great explanation of the new rules is explained in the popular “Expats in Mexico” Facebook group. I don’t think the requirements are outrageous, and many budget travelers should be able to go this route if they choose.

Another popular destination for American retirees is the Philippines. Talk about hard to get a tourist visa! This country has not opened to foreign tourists since March 2020, and it’s still closed with no set date to reopen. The plan to again issue tourist visas was blown to hell by Omicron.

When it does reopen, the tourist visa might be the most generous on the planet for early retired Earth Vagabonds — three years!

Self score: 1 point.

Self score on tourism predictions: 5.5 out of 6.

Travel predictions

Fewer flights mean more regional travel, as we practice “slow travel”

1. Just look at Americans. I know so many people who stopped ‘world travel’ and went back to America to check out the Grand Canyon. Nothing wrong with that!

Same here in the Philippines. Since it’s closed to foreign tourists, there is (or was, before Omicron) a huge domestic tourism push. Other countries still closed to international tourists but pushing for domestic tourism include Malaysia and Morocco.

Self score: 1 point.

Locals will be more eager to exchange authentic time with travelers

2. Local people sure seem interested in befriending us. We are anomalies here. Many expats still ‘live’ on Boracay Island, but not as many on the mainland where we have rented an apartment for nearly two years.

Many expats have gone home, here, and the world over. I imagine local people in every country dependent on tourism will welcome future visitors with open arms. But in terms of ‘travel’ — when you get outside the tourist zones, such as where we ‘live’ — people are not only interested in our money, but our friendship. It was like that before the pandemic, and I hope it increases even more when travel becomes easier.

Self score: 1 point. (Yes, I’m taking a little liberty here.)

A smaller tourism “industry” could lead to more locally sustained businesses

3. Not sure on this one. I think it’s too early to tell. There are some larger businesses here in the Philippines that have closed for good. Some were chain locations – some were small businesses. I guess the fallout is still falling.

Self score: no point.

Visa issuance will be favorable for longer stays, which would ease quarantine time

4. There are indeed some countries that now offer tourist visas for longer stays – but not for retirees like Earth Vagabonds. These newly created visas are targeted to digital nomads and freelancers – people who still work.

Anyway, the ‘Expert Vagabond’ (who is a digital nomad) has a thorough list of options for those who can work anywhere. Maybe I should get a freelance gig……….. there seem to be more options for longer visas.

Self score: 1 point.

Travelers will realize cultural visits enrich life — that authentic interaction with locals is a growth opportunity

5. This is an esoteric prediction. But it’s impossible for me to know how the former travelers who’ve given up and gone home feel about this. Does international travel absence make their hearts grow fonder?

One of my more popular, existential blog entries was about authentic travel.

Self score: no point.

Self score on travel predictions: 3 out of 5.

My original tourism and travel predictions post from is from June 2020.

Travel plans

When Theo and I got married and revealed our travel plans, my mom was incredibly worried about a whole host of factors. Theo told her, “Linda, your daughter has always moved around. She’ll be fine.”

Yep. I changed apartments every year or so and always went somewhere — even as a kid on family vacations. I started international vacations as a tourist with Theo in January 2002 — 20 years ago! We went to Tulum, Mexico, and I literally cried on the flight back to Cleveland. I had fallen in love travel. And, I had fallen in love with Theo.

I am unabashedly restless now. I miss travel and crave a change. It won’t ever be like it was before, but nothing ever is. Life is a complex system of movement through change.

We’ve been in the Philippines since November 2019. In the same apartment since March 2020. And still, travel plans for us Earth Vagabonds are not set.

I don’t have any more tourism or travel predictions. Only hope.

Hope that things get going again soon. For all of us Earth Vagabonds.

Thanks for reading, “Did these tourism and travel predictions come true?”

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4 thoughts on “Did these tourism and travel predictions come true?”

  1. Good predictions! Thailand is doing 60 day “covid extensions” for those of us here, which took us thru mid-April. Hoping they continue that past Jan since the rest of Asia is still not open. Fingers crossed the Big O eventually flames out & we can all travel more easily again.

  2. Ellen, you’re such a great writer! Love this line “Life is a complex system of movement through change” – so true! I am also getting antsy and craving travel. Here’s to hoping we can do a bit more wandering in 2022!

  3. Do you do stock market predictions as well as you do travel predictions? 🤣

    We have friends that we met in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico who got the 4 year residency visa, and all of them said it was a very simple process. For all of them, it was a major slash of bureaucratic red tape.

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