Travel

Print
Trains, Planes, Automobiles - Even Boats - Set to See Travel This Summer

20 Jun, 2021

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Planes, trains and automobiles are going to get a LOT of business this summer as families kick staycations to the curb in favor of actual travel. And travel for sports is going to factor into that.

The U.S. Travel Association (US Travel) quoted a Harris Poll survey requested by the Let’s Go There coalition, showing more than three-quarters of Americans (77%) plan to take a trip this summer. The strong number represents a stark one-year turnaround: a similar Harris Poll conducted in June 2020 found that just 29 percent of Americans planned summer leisure travel amid the grip of the COVID pandemic.

The latest poll’s sample reflects the sentiments of all Americans. The poll also found:

  • Two-thirds of Americans have a summer trip either already planned out (36 percent) or booked (30 percent).
  • Of the Americans who have summer travel either planned or booked, more than half (53 percent) will be traveling for the very first time since the start of the pandemic.
  • When thinking about traveling out of town right now, 55% of Americans responded they are either ready to go (26 percent) or optimistic (29 percent).
  • When asked what they are most looking forward to about traveling this summer, “reconnecting with friends and family” (19 percent) was the top response given, followed closely by “rest and relaxation” (18 percent).
  • More than half (52 percent) of Americans noted that the flexibility of working from home and having children take virtual classes has created increased flexibility in scheduling.

The poll is welcome news for a travel industry that has felt historic devastation for over a year. A staggering 65 percent of all U.S. jobs lost in 2020 were supported by travel, and the pandemic’s total economic impact on the industry is expected to be 10 times worse than 9/11. The only good news is that the latest employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the Leisure & Hospitality (L&H) industry gained 331,000 jobs in April – of course, there is a long way to go until the country reaches pre-pandemic levels, but any improvement is cause for celebration.

There’s still a long way to go, according to The Washington Post, which added, “The country still has more than 7.5 million less people employed than it did in February 2020, and needs to regain those jobs at an accelerated rate to make a full recovery by sometime next year. At the pace of job gains in May, the economy would not fully recover the jobs it lost during the pandemic before July 2023.”

Additionally, The Washington Post notes the U.S. economy overall added 559,000 jobs in May, the latest sign of a strengthening recovery as vaccinations rise and COVID restrictions ease nationwide. Even more good news: the gains were driven strongly by jobs added at restaurants, bars and other food-service establishments, which added 186,000 workers in the month. The categories of amusements, gambling and recreation, as well as hotels and accommodations, also saw strong gains in May, adding 58,000 and 35,000 jobs respectively. Those sectors have been the subject of intense focus of whether a shortage of workers or other pandemic-related issues have been holding back growth.

Significant improvements in the health landscape have helped to turn the tide. In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued formal guidance stating that domestic travel is safe for vaccinated persons—which followed substantial research findings that travel could be low-risk in general with appropriate safeguards in place. The White House has since announced that more than a third of U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated, and set an ambitious goal to get that number to 70% by July 4.

Other good indicators for the travel and tourism industry, though they are not survey findings, are more concrete. The world’s largest cruise ship could be sailing again by August, according to The Points Guy. Royal Caribbean president and CEO Michael Bayley on Thursday said the line had won approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a so-called “test cruise” with its record-setting, 5,518-passenger Symphony of the Seas out of PortMiami starting Aug. 1.

Announcing the news in a Facebook post, Bayley also revealed that a second giant Royal Caribbean vessel, the 5,484-passenger Allure of the Seas (the third-largest cruise ship on the water), also had gotten CDC approval to operate a test cruise out of Port Canaveral, Florida, starting July 27.

Neither Symphony of the Seas nor Allure of the Seas has operated a single departure in more than a year. Like the vast majority of the world’s cruise ships, the vessels have sat empty and waiting since March of 2020.

We’re also seeing family-friendly attractions starting to open (or reopen). The Avengers Campus at Disneyland has now officially opened to the public. Disney World has reopened as well, as have a number of other theme parks and tourist draws.

Those developments—coupled with polling indicating a coming surge in domestic leisure travel demand—is prompting a shift in near-term messaging from the travel industry.

“With summer just weeks away, we know travelers are ready to go—whether that means exploring favorite destinations they missed over the past year, discovering new outdoor activities, or reconnecting with their families,” said Julius Robinson, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, U.S. and Canada for Marriott International and co-chair of the Let’s Go There Coalition. “At Marriott, we are excited to continue to support this industry-wide effort as Americans begin to enjoy summer travel once again, as well as think about their 2022 vacation plans and the future travel experiences that await them.”

Let’s Go There coalition leaders stressed that consumer confidence in traveling will only continue to build through sustaining the strong commitment to health and safety. The U.S. Travel Association continues to urge Americans to receive a vaccine as soon as they can get one, and last month the association supported the Transportation Security Administration’s decision to extend the federal mandate on wearing masks for interstate travel until September.

Click here for an overview of The Harris Poll survey findings.

Click here for more information on the Let’s Go There campaign.

Print

Subscribe to SDM