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The Resurgence of Travel in 2021

The travel industry went into a tailspin due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As hotel owners welcome the new year, however, they may entertain some cautious optimism for travel in 2021. Experts agree that travelers are chomping at the bit to travel again and that pent-up demand is starting to bubble to the surface. Travelers’ wanderlust is stronger than ever with 2021 promising to be a year of reconnection and renewal.

Clayton Reid, CEO of travel marketing firm MMGY Global, made some 2021 travel predictions; stating that Q2 of this year will see a dramatic increase in travel intent including growth in business travel. According to a recent Forbes article, there are many markers that 2021 will enjoy a rebound in travel as people strive to make use of soon-to-expire travel vouchers. A new survey of thousands of travelers, conducted by AirportParkingReservations.com, supports these ideas. In its recent survey, when respondents were asked how they felt about travel in 2021, 38% felt “very confident,” while 44% felt “somewhat confident.” When asked if they felt more or less confident about airline travel in 2021 compared to 2020, 62% answered “more comfortable.” Similarly, travel technology company Amadeus, revealed new research showing that, not only are travelers excited to get moving, but they are also more likely to take bigger trips. Upwards of 55% of those surveyed stated they would travel for 14 days or more. It’s clear that we are ready to get back on the road.

So it’s clear the world wants to travel, but when will all types of travel be possible? The CDC still strongly advises against nonessential travel within the United States, but it is not banned. The U.S. State Department revoked its emergency “Level 4: Do Not Travel” global advisory in August 2020, but has highlighted individual countries based on travel risk. As of January 2021, 27 countries remain under a strict Level Four Advisory with an additional 150 at Level Three: Reconsider Travel. So, even though people want to travel, it is still not very easy to do so. 

With the COVID vaccine now making its way into communities, some experts believe it will help encourage the reopening of travel. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has joined with major international industry bodies to call for the restoration of international travel even without the COVID-19 vaccine. Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO states, “Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines will be critical to combatting COVID-19 and restoring confidence for people to interact with one another. However, it will take considerable time to vaccinate the world and for the vaccines to have a significant effect on the global population, and the global Travel & Tourism sector simply cannot wait. Vaccination must not be a requirement to travel but should co-exist with testing regimes and be considered as a progressive enhancement to already safe travel.

Although we are still in a “wait-and-see” holding pattern with regard to travel in 2021, many indicators point to a much better year for the hospitality industry.

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