Even as states and other countries start to reopen and airfare deals abound, travel lags as we look at the post-coronavirus world.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how nearly all Americans live, work and play. Many people are still under shelter-in-place orders (through May 31 in some parts of California) and travel restrictions. And with a record 20.5 million Americans losing their job in April, there’s a question of how much spare money people will have to travel.
A recent survey by MMGY Travel Intelligence for the U.S. Travel Association found that travelers aren’t quite ready to return in droves and they’re more likely to drive and stay closer to home in the next six months. Post-pandemic, 57% said they’re more likely to book travel to U.S. destinations and 43% expect to stay close to home.
Travel-related unemployment in the United States has hit 51%, according to new data from the USTA and Tourism Economics. The USTA expects travel spending this year to decline $519 billion due to the pandemic.
Overall, data from Oxford Economics shows that U.S. travel industry losses will create an economic impact of $1.2 trillion this year.
What will it take for Americans to travel again?
Concerns about personally contracting Covid-19 remain high across all age groups in the MMGY/USTA survey in early May. Travelers said they’re waiting for the spread of Covid-19 to decline and the CDC to lower its advisory level for travel.
Similarly, a survey by research firm Engagious found that a third of consumers were waiting for a vaccine or treatment, but a third said they would resume their regular activities, including eating out, shopping at a store and traveling, if possible. With safety assurances, it found that 57% would go on an overnight trip within three months.
Road trips will be king in the post-pandemic world. Part of Visit California’s website is dedicated to road trips throughout the state. You’ll see more of that nationwide.
The MMGY/USTA found that 45% of people are more likely to travel by car, with 32% willing to drive at least 300 miles one way to vacation in the next six months. Of that group, 19% are willing to drive 500 miles or more. People feel safest when traveling by personal vehicle (68%).
The Engagious survey found that travelers appear to be open to participating in medical screenings to participate in activities. More than half said so for staying in a hotel or visiting a casino, and 42% said it would affect their willingness to visit public venues.
Airlines, hotels and other lodgings are taking extra precautions, such as increasing their cleaning regimens. Many airlines and airports require travelers to were face masks. Some airlines, mostly international carriers, are taking passengers’ temperatures.
Among U.S. airlines, only low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines plans to start temperature screenings of passengers on June 1, and will deny boarding to anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher. Airlines have been pushing U.S. officials to check passengers’ temperature at about a dozen airports to help reduce travelers’ anxieties, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.
Cruises and international travel will take longer to recover. Despite some countries relaxing their travel restrictions, others have extended limitations. The U.S. and Canada just agreed to keep their border closed until June 21 and the European Commission has allowed member countries to extend restrictions on non-essential travel until June 15.
Just in the past week, I’ve noticed an increase in travel deals streaming into my inbox and social media streams. Experts say travelers will see low fares this year and maybe into 2021, but they won’t last forever and place will fill up fast.
Some 90% had travel or events planned or confirmed before Covid-19, according to the MMGY/USTA survey. That means lots of people have airline and lodging credits to put to use typically within a certain time frame.