The spring break season is traditionally the first major travel period of the year—but only about one in eight Americans plans a spring break trip this year, according to polling data by Destination Analysts.
And despite the nationwide progress on vaccines, spring break travel intentions actually appear to be dropping: the 12% who plan to travel for spring break is down from 16% the week prior—the first time that question was polled.
The data suggests that Americans remain wary about traveling amid the COVID pandemic and that they may prefer to defer their travel plans until the process of vaccinating the populace is more complete.
“Travel is a central pillar of the U.S. economy, so an overall recovery will only be possible if Washington moves quickly to keep the industry on its feet,” said Roger Dow, president/CEO, U.S. Travel Association. “A true travel comeback can also only happen once the pandemic is decisively behind us, and we all have an important part to play: get vaccinated as soon as you can, and don’t become complacent about mask-wearing and other important health practices.”
It is the latest worrying sign for the hard-hit travel industry, which experienced a collapse in travel demand and steep setbacks in 2020 as the pandemic took hold. Of all jobs lost nationwide, 39% are in leisure and hospitality.
Among those who do plan to travel for spring break this year, the reasons cited as most important were:
- Relax and escape stress (73%)
- Spending time with family (71%)
- Escape boredom (71%)
- Visit new places or destinations (68%)
- Get away from daily life (67%)
Headed into the spring break travel season, the U.S. Travel Association has released new updates to its “Travel in the New Normal” health and safety guidance, first released in May and last updated in November prior to the holiday travel surge.
The latest updates to the guidance mainly reflect the growing availability of COVID vaccines and include strong encouragement from the travel industry for every American to get vaccinated as soon as they are able.
But the latest data underscores that it is far from clear when demand for travel will rebound on its own and travel jobs can begin to be restored. Travel leaders say aggressive policy action is still needed to help travel employers keep their doors open, or else many will be at risk of shuttering and their jobs will be lost permanently.
Continued relief to travel through the Paycheck Protection Program and tax incentives to help travel-dependent businesses and spur individual travel demand are among the provisions the industry is requesting from Congress.