When President Biden said in a national address earlier this month that barbecues and in-person get-togethers might be possible for the July 4 holiday, many Americans became hopeful that they might reclaim another summer tradition: the vacation.
Even before the president’s cautiously optimistic speech, online search and booking activity for summer travel was breaking records. On Hopper, a travel booking app, there’s been a nearly 75 percent increase in searches for late-summer flights since late February, when the third vaccine was approved for the United States. The travel search site KAYAK is also seeing interest for summer travel steadily increase, with search traffic on its site growing as much as 27 percent each week.
As for bookings, Hopper reports that domestic bookings are up 58 percent so far this month compared to all of March 2019. More Americans, it seems, are planning sunshine breaks, reunions with grandchildren or just getting away.
“We will literally go anywhere, we’re so desperate to travel,” said Minda Alena, a New Jersey-based interior designer and creative director who is in the process of planning four trips this summer and fall. “We just want to get on a plane and feel like we’ve stepped away from our lives for a week.”
global tourism economy of up to 80 percent after accounting for all of 2020’s data. But with the pace of vaccinations accelerating and travel numbers ticking up, a rebound — at least in domestic travel — feels imminent.
A poll conducted by Amazing America, a website dedicated to the American road trip, found that more than 75 percent of respondents believe it will be safe to travel this summer. (More than 68 percent said the pandemic has pushed them to choose domestic travel over international.)
Priceline. Hesitancy over quarantine rules, concerns about sickness and economic uncertainty were all factors for those few who were vacationing.
Halee Whiting, the owner of the hotel sales consultancy Hospitality With a Flair, creates pricing strategies and tailored packages for hotel brands. Nearly 70 percent of the web traffic for her clients, she said, is now for travel between July and mid-September.
“People are itching to get out, but they’re still hesitant,” she said. “With the vaccine being more prevalent and states starting to loosen their guidelines, this summer will be when they are ready to tiptoe out of their bubble.”
For hotels and rental cottages, ‘demand is real’
Indeed, many travel agencies and lodging operators are already seeing numbers that outpace 2019, which was a banner year for the travel industry.
Vacasa, the rental home-management site, reports its reservations are up more than 300 percent over last year. Stand-alone rental cottages were a big draw for vacationers in 2020 — thanks to their promise of privacy — and this summer travelers are again snapping them up.
Take a look at just one of Vacasa’s properties, the Whispering Pines Lodge in Eagle River, Pa. Bookings at the 11-bedroom lodge are 97.5 percent higher than they were at this point two years ago, with occupancy for the summer already at nearly 100 percent.
Hotels, which are still experiencing a year-over-year decrease in occupancy of more than 20 percent, are also welcoming this summer rush.