When the majority of the world’s nations went into lockdowns and curbed international travel more than a year ago, few could have accurately predicted that most of these restrictions would still be in place more than a year later.
Whilst international travel continues to stall and stutter as a result of the pandemic, domestic travel has entered somewhat of a resurgence, with news emerging this week that hotel occupancy levels have hit new pandemic highs. Here’s a look at the hotel situation in the US, and why this may be the case.
Hotel Occupancy Rates Soar – The Figures
The global pandemic has wreaked havoc on all facets of the travel and tourism industry, with travelers either unable or simply unwilling to travel over the past year due to the risk of contracting the coronavirus. The effects on the hotel industry are clear; in April of last year – the month following a spate of stay at home orders by various states – saw occupancy levels drop to 24.5%, which has so far been the lowest occupancy rate of the pandemic, and the lowest of any month in the past ten years.
However, the situation has markedly improved. According to the CEO of Wyndham Group, Geoff Ballotti, the last two weeks have been seen occupancy levels at their highest since the pandemic began. “These last two weeks … have been the highest two weeks of occupancy in our industry since last March and to see occupancy levels now back to 85% of where they were in 2019, is impressive,” Ballotti said in an interview with CNBC. Wyndham Group consists of a series of well-known hotel chains, such as Ramada, Days Inn, AmericInn, Super 8 and Hawthorn Suites. Ballotti also gave his backing to the idea of vaccine passports, saying that a uniform digital health credential could make travel both easier and safer.
March 2019 saw occupancy rates at 68.4%, whilst the same month in 2020 saw that figure drop to 39.4%. According to the analytics company STR, the week ending March 27th 2021 saw the occupancy figure in hotels rise to 57.9%, a significant improvement from the previous year’s performance. But why is this happening?
Why Are People Traveling Once More?
The year on year rise of March’s hotel occupancy rates shows that Americans are finally feeling more confident to travel once more. This is further backed up by the fact that March has also been responsible the busiest day of travel of the pandemic so far.
Several factors could be at play when it comes to determining the sudden boom in travel. Firstly, the Covid-19 situation in the US has improved dramatically since the start of the year; the current 7-day rolling average across the nation stands at 65,574 which, whilst still too high for some to justify traveling, is much lower than the 200,000 or daily cases that the start of the year saw. With fewer cases and less of a perceived threat, Americans are feeling confident and safer to travel once more.
Secondly, the role of the vaccination drive can’t be understated. According to the CDC, more than 15% of the population of the US have been vaccinated, giving millions the confidence and freedom to travel without worry and fear despite the CDC’s recommendations that they should stay home.
Finally, the affordability and availability of travel may have proved a temptation too far. With several airlines adding more and more routes and slashing their prices, lockdown-fatigued travelers are packing their bags and opting for a change of scenery.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories