Businesses across the country have been hit hard due to the White House’s stay-at-home orders, with many losing business as they have been forced to shut up shop.
However the country’s orders to stay home did not keep everyone away from the beaches and parks over the last few weekends, prompting travel industry experts to predict continued business in these areas over the upcoming months.
And with many states starting to ease the restrictions put in place because of coronavirus, thousands of Americans are expected to head out for day trips and short breaks. However research shows that we are still worried about the possibility of catching covid-19 so will opt for a road trip rather than step onto a plane. Recent images emerging from a crowded American Airlines flight has done little to reduce the level of worry that is currently being seen.
CEO and president of tourism market research consultancy Longwoods International believes ‘there is this pent-up demand for travel.”
Amir Eylon continues, “What you’re first going to see is day trips, [people] going wherever [they] can get to in a couple hours and coming back home that day.”
However the accommodation and movie industries are not predicted to see any return for the foreseeable future with Americans confirming they are worried about catching the virus in confined spaces, preferring to explore the countryside instead.
The National Park Service has already started to get ready for what they believe will be an increase in visitors to their federal parks. Working on a “park-by-park” basis they are putting plans in place, which comply with health and safety government guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As with other industries, economists agree that how we act within the next few months will be a crucial aspect to how our economy can recover. So far, the travel industry has lost around eight million jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic with airlines including American Airlines, Delta and Boeing having to make layoffs as well as car rental companies Hertz laying off 10,000 of their employees as well as Avis. Research company Tourism Economics confirms the sector was the hardest hit, with business suffering more than nine times as much than after 9/11.
The US Travel Association’s president and chief executive officer Roger Dow commented, “When travel is down, everything else is down. When travel comes back, everything else comes back.”
The beginning of March saw a huge dive in business thanks to 58 per cent of Americans cancelling their vacation plans, some for up to six months, with coronavirus being the main reason. However the numbers continued to rise and by the end of March – and for most of April – 84% of Americans decided they would not travel.
However a survey by Longwoods at the end of April saw the low demand drop to only 67 per cent, with 86 per cent of those surveyed admitting they were considering traveling to a domestic location within the next six months.
And the most recent survey saw that during the next six months only 8% of Americans would not be traveling while only 4% said they would be happy to travel overseas.
Adam Sacks, president of the Tourism Economics research firm said, “People are going to be traveling and taking summer vacations this summer, it’s just going to be different. Traveling is going to be weighted towards traveling within one’s driving region.”
However there are still grave concerns that international travel will take longer to recover as passengers continue to worry about how different countries are handling the crisis. It is also clear that travelers wishing to head to America are still concerned due to the way that Trump has been seen to ‘poorly’ handle the crisis.
Sacks said, “There’s a little bit of a silver lining there. All of those outbound trips, many of those will get diverted into domestic trips. That’s going to offset some of the declines from [foreigners choosing not to] travel into the US.”
Adara chief marketing officer Carolyn Corda agrees that travelers are opting for cars rather than planes saying, “The idea that people are going to be driving for vacations, I think that’s true… a lot of people are saying it’s going to be the year of the road trip.”
Dow continues that so long as we continue to maintain social distancing recommendations and adhere to health and safety recommendations business should continue to improve. “There might be some earlier economic winners. Some areas are going to come back faster.”
However with some states already lifting restrictions there is a worry that business could suffer more if – like in Georgia – a second wave starts to grow due to businesses being able to open too early.