AHLA: 7 Out of 10 Americans Unlikely to Travel for Holidays

WASHINGTON—A new national survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) shows that many Americans are not expected to travel this holiday season. Results show that 72% of Americans are unlikely to travel for Thanksgiving and 69% are unlikely to travel for Christmas, compounding the challenges for the hotel industry during this public health crisis.

Business travel has been even more impacted. Only 8% of Americans say they have taken an overnight business trip since March, and just 19% of respondents who are currently employed—or 8% of all adults—expect to travel for business within the next six months. Sixty-two percent (62%) of employed Americans have no plans to stay in a hotel for business.

The survey of 2,200 adults was conducted Nov. 2-4 by Morning Consult on behalf of AHLA. Key findings of the survey include the following:

  • Only 3 in 10 (32%) respondents have taken an overnight vacation or leisure trip since March
  • 21% of Americans say they are likely to travel for Thanksgiving, 24% are likely to travel for Christmas
  • Looking ahead to next year, 24% are likely to travel for spring break
  • 44% say their next hotel stay for vacation or leisure travel will be a year or more from now or they have no plans to stay in a hotel

“This holiday season will be an especially difficult time for all Americans, and our industry is no exception,” said Chip Rogers, AHLA president/CEO. “Fewer people will be traveling, and business travel remains nearly nonexistent. That’s why it’s so important for Congress to pass a relief bill now. Millions of Americans are out of work, and thousands of small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open. We cannot afford to wait until the next Congress is sworn in for relief. They need help now.”

He continued, “For those who are considering traveling for the holidays, hotels will be ready to welcome you. Through our Safe Stay initiative, hotels have enhanced our already rigorous cleaning protocols to be more transparent and give travelers even more peace of mind.”

The hotel industry was the first impacted by the pandemic and will be one of the last to recover. Hotel occupancy rates partially rebounded from record lows in April, but they have continued to decline since Labor Day. According to STR, nationwide hotel occupancy was 44.4% for the week ending Oct. 31, compared to 62.6% the same week last year. Occupancy in urban markets is just 35.6%, down from 71.8% one year ago.

As a result of the significant drop in travel, more than half of hotels report they have less than half of their typical, pre-crisis staff working full time currently. Without further governmental assistance, 74% of hotels said they would be forced into further layoffs. Business and group travel are not expected to reach 2019 peak demand levels again until 2023. As a result of the sharp drop in travel demand from COVID-19, state and local tax revenue from hotel operations is estimated to drop by $16.8 billion in 2020.

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