For those of us in the lodging industry who are so dependent on people leaving their homes we keep waiting for that elusive catalyst that will jump-start travel and finally get hoteliers back on their feet. The reality is it’s unlikely that the proverbial floodgates will open as a result of any one factor or occurrence, but rather a chain of events that make travel more convenient and conducive.
Another one of these events occurred late last week when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a statement effectively encouraging Americans who are fully vaccinated to travel. The statement noted such passengers can travel “at low risk to themselves” both domestically and internationally. Perhaps just as importantly, Americans who do travel no longer have to quarantine upon returning from their travels.
Easing up on travel restrictions and instilling confidence in Americans is a critical step in getting people back on airplanes and subsequently into hotel rooms. Key industry associations recognize this as well and have fully endorsed the measures.
Cecil P. Staton, president and CEO of AAHOA (Asian American Hotel Owners Association), commented in a statement. “The new CDC travel guidelines are welcome news for America’s hoteliers and the millions of Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID 19. For more than a year, lockdowns, curfews, and quarantines in response to the pandemic decimated the travel and tourism industry as people simply stopped traveling.”
Staton later added, “The hotel industry’s road to economic recovery is long. A full recovery remains unlikely until at least 2023, but this news is a shot in the arm to the hotel owners and hospitality professionals who are eager to welcome guests back not their hotels and communities.”
The ongoing movement to get more people, including hotel employees, is a top priority for anyone in the travel and tourism. As of last week, over 100 million Americans have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
We already know that the number of people traveling is trending up, according to the Travel and Security Administration (TSA). Since the beginning of April traveler throughput numbers have held steady at roughly 1.5 million per day. For a point of comparison at this time last year, those numbers were barely exceeding 100,000 per day. Even as recently as a couple of months ago, the numbers were less than 1 million on most days.
Airlines are taking notice as well and beginning to increase the numbers of flights. Delta, for example, has already announced it will begin selling middle seats again, something it refused to do throughout the pandemic. This latest CDC update may go a long way in getting those middle seats filled, not to mention hotel rooms.