Doctors. Bankers. Athletes.
Now add travel influencers — an attractive cohort who post gorgeous photos in exotic destinations Instagram, often because they are hired to promote those places — to the list of professions that COVID-19 has sent into turmoil.
“[Coronavirus is] impacting my income massively,” Callum Snape, a Vancouver-based travel photographer with 819,000 followers on Instagram, told Buzzfeed. “I haven’t seen any new inquiries in the past six weeks since the outbreak became more widespread.”
March is usually one of the busiest months for travel, says Selena Taylor of @FindUsLost, a New York City-based jetsetter with 177,000 followers. She says she’s “definitely noticed a dip in people booking hotels and Airbnbs” — she can tell, in part, because folks can reserve such accommodations through affiliate links on her blog and Instagram feed. (She gets a cut of the booking amount when they do.)
Melissa Hie, of @GirlEatsWorld, tells Buzzfeed, “[Things have] definitely changed in that I am not traveling at all at the moment and not actively planning unnecessary trips until the virus situation looks better.”
Hie, whose 378,000 followers follow her snapshots of food held up in front of scenic international backdrops, works out of Singapore. Given that both SARS and H1N1 influenza hit Asia, she is well-versed in the best practices for pandemics.
“Things are looking a bit bleak at the moment and there are definitely moments of uncertainty,” Hie says.
Some influencers are figuring out how to follow their wanderlust while still paying heed to travel restrictions, such as the 30-day ban on flights from Europe to the the US. They’re working on blog posts from trips already taken and daydreaming about the future by snatching up low airfares on offer right now.
Eric Stoen, aka @TravelBabbo, tells Buzzfeed that he was supposed to be in Berlin, Florence, Catania and Istanbul last week with his wife and three children. But plans were canceled by outside parties: either the airlines they planned to fly or the people they were going to meet up with in those destinations.
“If it had been only one hiccup, I would have gone ahead with the trip, but with literally every element imploding I canceled my flights and hotels,” said Stoen, whose feed is peppered with cheery shots of his travels to 97 countries (62 with his family) . “[I] was very disappointed.”
He still plans to go ahead with trips in May and June, recently posting, “I’m hopeful that with all of the lockdowns we can get on top of the virus over the next month and things will be back to normal by this summer. There’s no way of knowing of course, but for now we’re keeping all of our summer plans and I’m actively booking new travel from June onward when I’m finding deals.”
Still other influencers are embracing what they see as their social responsibility, limiting their movement to avoid contributing to the spread of coronavirus and hopefully leading by example. (Unlike the globetrotters who continue to travel, just with designer facemasks and gloves.)
One such Instagrammer is Lauren Bullen, who has over 2.1 million followers under the handle @Gypsea_Lust.
“We are also having to think about not really traveling too much at the moment because it could be seen negatively to be promoting travel at a time like this,” she writes.
The influencers have perspective on their privilege. “It’s hard to be angry or annoyed that I’m losing income,” Snape says, “because there are thousands of people that have lost their lives because of the virus.”
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