As the year winds down, I’d like to take a moment to recognize how far the travel industry has come in its recovery. Our industry has demonstrated unparalleled resilience throughout this crisis, and it has led to some extraordinary achievements. Though we are not out of the woods just yet, there is so much for us to celebrate as we look back on 2021.
After the deployment of vaccines early in the year (an amazing scientific achievement in its own right), we saw a strong resurgence in domestic leisure travel demand—with spending in this sector climbing back to 97% of 2019 levels. Bookings soared and destinations around the country welcomed back the customers they had been missing for months. To see Americans getting back to doing what we love—travelling—was so encouraging to see.
As the vaccine rollout ramped up, our industry also achieved significant legislative wins with the passage of the American Rescue Plan and the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, which were essential lifelines for travel businesses.
Meanwhile, U.S. Travel did its part to restore the inbound and business travel segments by pushing for the safe reopening of international travel and a resumption of in-person, professional meetings and events (PMEs). The Let’s Meet There campaign encouraged a safe return to business travel and elevated research from The Ohio State University, which showed that it is possible to conduct and attend PMEs if health and safety measures are in place. These measures were put into practice this year when U.S. Travel convened our spring board meeting in Tampa, our summer board meeting in Colorado Springs and ESTO in Los Angeles.2021 IPW Recap from U.S. Travel on Vimeo.
After IPW, we continued a busy legislative push to get Congress to advance the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was passed on November 5. This came just days after our first-ever Future of Travel Mobility conference, which convened top leaders in travel, transportation and technology with policymakers and administration officials to discuss the future of how we move around our country.
These are just a few of the many success stories our industry was a part of this year. While there were some bumps along the way, 2021 was crucial to getting travel back on track and advancing priorities that will shape our industry for years to come.
This year was not perfect, but I am so proud of all that we were able to accomplish—together. To all of our valued members, thank you for all that you do and give to this industry. I look forward to continuing our good work in 2022—together.