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Rima Karsokienė Leta Dromantienė

Abstract

The relevance of this study is determined by the fact that the tourism industry is undergoing the most difficult period in its history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the virus have had a devastating effect on the entire tourism industry, both worldwide and in Lithuania. Tourism is a vital part of the infrastructure of the world economy, generating 10% of total GDP according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Hence, this industry was maintaining 1 in 10 of all jobs worldwide before the COVID-19 pandemic. The tourism sector is very dynamic, requiring a rapid response to a changing environment and market. However, tourism is also the sector most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, tour operators in Lithuania suffered €9.5 million in losses throughout 2020, and their income fell by an average of 58%.The aim of this article is to analyze the motives and choices of travelers’ behavior regarding travel priorities during a pandemic.The research methodology consisted of the analysis of scientific literature alongside documentary and statistical data regarding the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism sector. This was accompanied by quantitative research on travelers’ behavior in Lithuania.The results of this study unequivocally show that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travelers was over 89%. Due to the changing quarantine conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic in various countries, last-minute travel is expected to become popular for reasons of financial security and allowing more predictable travel dates. The travel industry, after having been affected by the global pandemic, encourages hobby, tailor-made trips, or even specific reconstructions of the most popular prepandemic trips that are designed around the individual needs of travelers.Respondents also indicated that the future of safe travel lies in vaccine passports and, although it is not yet known exactly whether vaccination inhibits the spread of the disease, acquired immunity and resistance to the COVID-19 virus provides an opportunity to avoid severe complications or even death. A survey of travelers revealed that 67.1% of respondents would choose a vaccine passport, and the Chi-squared test found that travel planning differed statistically significantly depending on the introduction of vaccination passports. This means that travel planning would be more active if vaccination passports were introduced to allow unrestricted travel without testing and quarantine.

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