AHLA: Holiday season will not boost travel

woman with a mask on a plane
Nearly three quarters—72 percent—of Americans are unlikely to travel for Thanksgiving and 69 percent are unlikely to travel for Christmas. Photo credit: evrim ertik/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

A new national survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests many Americans are not expected to travel this holiday season. 

Nearly three quarters—72 percent—of Americans are unlikely to travel for Thanksgiving and 69 percent are unlikely to travel for Christmas, compounding the challenges for the already beleaguered hotel industry.

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“This holiday season will be an especially difficult time for all Americans, and our industry is no exception” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “Fewer people will be traveling, and business travel remains nearly non-existent. 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.” 
The survey of 2,200 adults was conducted in early November by Morning Consult on behalf of AHLA. Among the results, the survey found that three in 10 (32 percent) respondents have taken an overnight vacation or leisure trip since March, 21 percent of Americans say they are likely to travel for Thanksgiving and 24 percent are likely to travel for Christmas. Looking ahead to next year, 24 percent are likely to travel for spring break, and 44 percent 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. 

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The numbers for business travel were even worse: Only 8 percent of Americans say they have taken an overnight business trip since March, and just 19 percent of respondents who are currently employed—or 8 percent of all adults—expect to travel for business within the next six months. Sixty-two percent of employed Americans have no plans to stay in a hotel for business.
AHLA predicted the hospitality industry will be one of the last to recover from the pandemic. 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 percent for the week ending October 31, compared to 62.6 percent the same week last year. Occupancy in urban markets is 35.6 percent, down from 71.8 percent 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 percent 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 decline $16.8 billion in 2020. 

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