Major Travel Influencers Say Their Lives And Jobs Have Taken A Pretty Significant Hit Due To The Coronavirus
"Things are looking a bit bleak at the moment and there are definitely moments of uncertainty."
Popular travel influencers say the fears and spread of COVID-19 around the world has impacted their daily lives and bottom lines.
One person reported that her income last month was cut in half.
BuzzFeed News heard from a handful of influencers with followings that range from a few hundred thousand to millions, who say everything has been indefinitely put on hold. Some are unsure what being forced to limit their travel, photo shoots, and brand endorsement deals will do to their livelihood.
"It's impacting my income massively," said Callum Snape, a Vancouver-based travel photographer whose Instagram account has over 818,000 followers. "I haven't seen any new inquiries in the past six weeks since the outbreak became more widespread."
Snape, like many others, said several of his large-scale projects and contracts with other businesses are either postponed or canceled entirely. Not much new is coming in at the moment, either.
"The virus has shifted the industry tremendously," said Alen Palander, an influencer with over 608,000 followers. "Six of my substantial projects have been canceled already, with a few in question at the moment."
A woman named Melissa Hie, who documents food around the world on her blog GirlEatWorld, told BuzzFeed News she made half of what she usually makes in the last month due to limiting her own travel and seeing a decline in paid partnership offers.
"[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," said Hie. She's based in Singapore, where she said the government has taken strict measures to try to contain the spread of COVID-19.
"Things are looking a bit bleak at the moment and there are definitely moments of uncertainty," she added.
Selena Taylor of the blog and Instagram account @finduslost said March is typically one of the busiest months for travel, and she's "definitely noticed a dip in people booking hotels and Airbnbs."
Taylor makes a significant portion of her income through sales and bookings with affiliate links on her website.
Money is not the only adjustment travel influencers have had to make over the past few weeks — although it might be the most impactful. For many of them, globetrotting is their passion.
Now, they're either dealing with being forced to stay put or trying to keep up with their usual travels amid rising concerns and advisories for travel.
Eric Stoen, who travels the world with his wife and three children for his Instagram @travelbabbo, said he was supposed to be in Berlin, Florence, Catania, and Istanbul last week. But one by one, travel plans were either canceled by airlines or by people he had planned to meet at the 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," he said. "[I] was very disappointed."
Stoen is, however, trying to maintain the normalcy of his packed traveling schedule with his family.
"I still have European plans in May and June with my family and have no plans to cancel...I was in Morocco and Spain with my family two weeks ago and I’m working on editing photos and then a blog post from that trip."
He said he's also trying to take advantage of the low airfares right now and has been "busy booking and rebooking travel" that was previously canceled.
Some are taking more conscientious steps to limit their travel, not only to keep themselves more safe, but to project a responsible image online.
"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," said Lauren Bullen, whose travels and Instagram page @gypsea_lust have garnered over 2.1 million followers so far.
She's currently based in Bali and told BuzzFeed News she's witnessed "distress" from members of her wanderlust-y travel community who are forced to indefinitely postpone their trips.
Still, most influencers are trying to keep it all in perspective and are remaining hopeful.
"It's hard to be angry or annoyed that I'm losing income because there are thousands of people that have lost their lives because of the virus," said Snape.
"On the flip side of this, we're going to see destinations and airlines invest huge amounts of money on the rebound, which I'm positioning myself to take advantage of to make up for the decline currently."
"It feels like a waiting game at the moment," Taylor added.