WASHINGTON—U.S. leisure travelers are paring back travel plans amid rising COVID-19 cases, with 69 percent planning to take fewer trips, 55 percent planning to postpone existing travel plans, and 42 percent likely to cancel existing plans without rescheduling, according to a new national survey conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Nearly three in four (72 percent) are likely to only travel to places within driving distance.
While leisure travel historically begins to decline after Labor Day, it remains critical throughout the year. The new survey highlights the ongoing negative effects of the pandemic on travel and underscores the need for targeted federal relief, such as the Save Hotel Jobs Act.
More than one in five hotel jobs lost during the pandemic—nearly 500,000 in total—will not have returned by the end of this year. For every 10 people directly employed on a hotel property, hotels support an additional 26 jobs in the community, from restaurants and retail to hotel supply companies—meaning an additional nearly 1.3 million hotel-supported jobs are also at risk.
The survey of 2,200 adults was conducted from August 11 to 12, 2021. Of these, 1,707 people, or 78 percent of respondents, are leisure travelers—that is, those who indicated they may travel for leisure in 2021. Key findings among leisure travelers include the following:
- Sixty-nine percent are likely to take fewer trips and 65 percent are likely to take shorter trips
- Forty-two percent are likely to cancel existing travel plans with no plans to reschedule
- Fifty-five percent are likely to postpone existing travel plans until a later date
- Seventy-two percent are likely to only travel to places they can drive to
- Seventy percent are likely to travel with smaller groups
“With COVID-19 cases rising and travel concerns mounting as we enter the fall and winter months, the hotel industry is at a pivotal point. Unless Congress acts, pandemic-related travel reductions will continue to threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of hotel workers,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “For over a year, hotel employees and small business owners across the nation have been asking Congress for direct pandemic relief. This data underscores why it’s time for Congress to act.”
Recently released AHLA survey results show that business travelers are also scaling back their travel plans amid rising COVID-19 cases. That includes 67 percent planning to take fewer trips, 52 percent likely to cancel existing travel plans without rescheduling, and 60 percent planning to postpone existing travel plans.
Hotels are the only segment of the hospitality and leisure industry yet to receive direct aid despite being among the hardest hit. That is why AHLA and UNITE HERE, the largest hospitality workers’ union in North America, joined forces to call on Congress to pass the bipartisan Save Hotel Jobs Act introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.). This legislation would provide a lifeline to hotel workers, providing the assistance they need to survive until travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.