The travel industry has been one of the industries that has seen some of the harshest affects from the COVID-19 pandemic. All around the world, countries have implemented harsh lockdowns and protocols that have imposed travel restrictions on everyone. Tourist hot spots such as Las Vegas, Nevada and Greece have become ghost towns. The pandemic has put a hold on plans such as summer vacations, business trips, and family visits. Business Insider estimates that U.S travel sales will fall by almost 45% during 2020 to $115 billion. This is just shy of $93 billion lower than the 2019 total. As far as domestic and international travel is concerned, the U.S. Travel Association forecasts a decrease of 45% and 75%, respectively, by the end of the year. The travel industry unemployment level also reached 51% in July, which was double the number during the Great Depression’s worst year. They are calling this the “Great Travel Depression.” Many industries are not expected to recover fully until 2022, the travel industry included.
The travel industry’s recovery is largely dependent upon the easing of the lockdowns and restrictions that have been put in place around the world. However, demand for travel will still be uncertain as fears of contracting the virus are still present. That being said, and with a second wave of the pandemic seemingly taking place, the industry’s recovery will in large be associated with the release and approval of a vaccine for the virus.
Fortunately, it seems as though people are beginning to open up to the idea of traveling once again. In a survey conducted by Virtuoso, a luxury travel network, 92% of surveyed individuals stated that the election made them want to travel while 72% said that they were ready to begin traveling again. The managing director, Misty Belles, also stated, “We’re already seeing evidence of that confidence coming back, with people booking stays for Thanksgiving and the holiday season.”
Providing a further boost to people’s confidence in regard to traveling, Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna have all recently stated that their vaccines show a 90% or greater efficacy rate in their final trials. In fact, Pfizer submitted an application on Friday to the FDA asking for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine. Travel metrics already portray people’s growing confidence and optimism on the positive news of a potential vaccine. Travel searches on platforms such as Kayak have surged up to 8% week over week since the announcements. As soon as a vaccine can be approved by the FDA and administered to the public, the travel industry is expected to see a recovery as people’s demand for traveling is increasing.