While the latest travel data reflects the dire situation that we face, it is very useful when speaking with Congress, the administration and government leaders about the urgent need to provide relief to our industry now. We also know that real-time insights are critical to detecting shifts in traveler behavior and sentiment so that you can plan appropriately for the future.

Note: This page will be updated every Thursday with new travel industry data. 

 

Weekly Analysis

Analysis by Tourism Economics shows a week-by-week outlook on travel spending in the U.S. The analysis also looks at regional and state-by-state breakdowns. Findings from the September 17 report: 

  • As the end of summer nears, travel spending hit its lowest levels of the past four weeks
    • In the week ending September 12, travel spending tallied just $12.7 billion, reflecting a 43% drop below last year's levels (a $9.4 billion loss)
      • While significantly worse than the 30% year-over-year (y/y) decline in the prior week—which included the days leading into the Labor Day holiday—the 43% y/y decline remains consistent with performance for much of August
      • Actual dollar value travel losses were less than earlier weeks in August since travel spending levels generally decline with the conclusion of the summer travel season
    • Every state and territory saw a decline in travel spending compared to the prior week, but about half saw gains relative to two weeks prior
      • South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Oregon, and Alabama experienced the greatest improvements over the past two weeks
      • New York, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii still experienced losses exceeding 50%
    • Since the beginning of March, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in over $376 billion in cumulative losses for the U.S. travel economy
    • The continual depressed level of travel spending has caused a loss of $48.3 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue since March 1

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Road Travel: Arrivalist Trends Tracker (Year-Over-Year Comparison Now Included) 

The Daily Travel Index from Arrivalist measures consumer road trips of 50 miles or more in all 50 U.S. states. It now provides year-over-year comparisons.

Arrivalist also provided a direct Labor Day 2020 to Labor Day 2019 comparison:

  • As shared last week, road travel over the Labor Day travel period (Thurs-Mon) was just 5.1% lower than in 2019
  • State-level data, by state of origin, is now available for the same Labor Day travel period and it shows extremely large differences between states
    • Road travel by residents of Florida (both in-state and out-of-state travel) experienced the strongest y/y growth (+53%) while travel by residents of Alaska (+28%) and Hawaii (+19%) followed
    • On the other hand, travel by residents of Vermont experienced the largest y/y decline (-17%), followed by Iowa (-15%) and Kentucky (-14%)

Please note: The Daily Travel Index now presents y/y % changes in road travel. Data for the latest week, however, is still influenced by the later timing of Labor Day in 2020 compared to 2019. For this reason, we are not including it in our summary this week and are instead focusing on direct Labor Day 2020 vs Labor Day 2019 comparisons. In particular, we are including state-level data (by origin/residence of travelers) provided to U.S. Travel directly by Arrivalist.

Air Travel: Passenger Screenings at TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) updates passenger screening numbers on a daily basis, providing a comparison to the same time last year.

  • The latest seven-day average of screenings (through Tuesday, September 15) was 683,000, similar to levels seen at the end of August (prior to the huge increase above 800,000 over Labor Day weekend) but slightly lower than most of August
  • Screenings over the last seven days were back at 70% below last year levels, after the y/y improvement to -64% over Labor Day weekend

Tracking Search and Booking Behavior 

ADARA's Traveler Trends Tracker taps into real-time travel data on travel-related consumer behavior including hotel volume and flight bookings for both business and leisure travel. 

In addition, ADARA directly provides U.S. Travel with national and state-level booking data, summarized below:

  • Domestic air and hotel bookings for future travel improved slightly (-60% y/y), as they have each week since early July—the best performance since the start of the pandemic but still deep in negative territory
    • Domestic bookings to Montana (-7%), Wyoming (-15%) and Idaho (-21%) experienced the lowest y/y declines
    • Domestic bookings to New York (-77%), Hawaii (-71%) and Massachusetts (-70%), again, saw the highest declines
  • International bookings for future travel to the U.S. improved throughout the summer—from a low of -79% earlier in the summer to -67% y/y in early September—but remain significantly lower than domestic bookings

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Traveler and Consumer Sentiment Survey Results

This weekly survey by Destinations Analysts tracks key consumer perceptions, attitudes and behaviors of American business and leisure travelers. Key findings from September 14:   

  • Health concerns, while strong, remain the lowest they have been during the pandemic
    • The average rating of travel activities as “unsafe” continued to fall this week to the lowest levels since March 15; over 30% feel confident they can now travel safely and another 24% feel at least somewhat confident
  • There has been a measured rise in the number of American travelers who are planning travel
    • This week, 78% report they have at least tentative trip plans—up from 75% last week
  • Among those who traveled by commercial airline this past summer, just over half (53%) report feeling unsafe against COVID-19 at some point during their flight.
  • Among those staying at lodging properties, just 28% report feeling unsafe, while 73% report feeling safe, sometime during their stay
  • While it is a positive sign for the travel industry that well over a third of American travelers took trips this past summer, the pandemic negatively impacted travel spending
    • Over 56% of those who traveled over the summer said they decreased their spending to some degree, and 42% said they were more budget conscious

 

Engagious Back to Normal Barometer, September 16, 2020

  • There has been a significant uptick over the past month in the number of people who are ready to travel both for leisure and business
  • Respondents expressed that they would be extremely more likely to partake in travel activities if everyone was given a rapid test and only those with negative results were allowed to participate, including:
    • stay at a hotel/resort (41%)
    • fly commercially (38%)
    • visit a theme park (34%)
    • attend a conference/convention (33%)
  • Four in 10 respondents traveled over Labor Day weekend
  • Among those who didn’t travel, about half said they don’t typically travel for Labor Day weekend in any year, while the other half cited pandemic-related reasons for not travelling
  • On the other hand, 27% said they are waiting for a medical breakthrough while 14% said they are waiting for assurances from medical authorities and government that it is safe
  • Among those who stayed at a hotel or resort in the last 12 months, more than half said they are either already doing this (17%) or are “ready to go” (42%)
  • Among those who participated in a conference or convention in the last 12 months, 65% said they are “ready to go”

Longwoods Travel Sentiment Survey, September 15, 2020

  • Half of survey respondents now feel safe traveling outside their communities (up from 39% just four weeks ago), though only 43% support opening their communities to visitors
  • Among the many activities that travelers are planning to do this fall, visiting family and friends (66%) and taking a road trip (58%) are, by far, the most popular
  • Other planned fall travel activities include: Visiting national/state parks (33%), viewing fall foliage (30%), hiking/biking (28%), visiting a farmer’s market (27%), visiting museums/art galleries (22%) and visiting a farm for fall harvest activities (22%)

 

The Harris Poll CV-19 Tracker, September 13, 2020

  • Despite media’s portrayal of careless youth, nearly 8 in 10 (79%) Gen Zers say they are strictly following mask-wearing guidelines and are actively urging others to do the same
  • Gen Z reported being most stressed out about the health of their family members and their friends (81%) as well as the well-being of the country as a whole (75%), more so than missing key milestones like graduation or prom (67%) or traveling (46%)
  • Young people feel increasing anxiety to get back to normal: Three-quarters say being in limbo and facing uncertainty about the future is causing them a significant amount of stress

 

​iMeet Survey of Meeting Planners, September 13, 2020

  • Planners who believe they will resume face-to-face meetings by the end of the year improved to 20%, up from 16% last week
  • Uncertainty around resuming face-to-face meetings is slowly improving and 15% of planners are targeting Q4 2020 for face-to-face meetings
  • More than half of planners anticipate they will resume face-to-face meetings in the first half of 2021, with 19% resuming in Q1 and 36% resuming in Q2

 

Employment in Leisure &. Hospitality Through July 2021 

report prepared for U.S. Travel Association by Tourism Economics analyzes job loss in the leisure and hospitality industry due to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • 40% of excess U.S. unemployment is in the Leisure and Hospitality (L&H) sector, as defined by the quintennial North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), despite that sector accounting for 11% of all pre-pandemic employment in the U.S.
  • Despite some jobs being slowly restored with the onset of the spring and summer travel seasons, more than a quarter of all L&H workers remain unemployed—double the next most hard-hit industry
  • Nearly half of the 16.9 million jobs in the L&H sector were wiped out in March and April
  • If every industry recovered to its pre-pandemic employment level except for L&H, the overall employment rate would fall from 10.2% to 6.2%—still 2.7% higher than pre-pandemic levels

View the results of the Travel Intentions Pulse Survey


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