Ongoing pandemic drives STR, TE to downgrade U.S. hotel forecast

2021 Forecast hand touching pass through infographic
Full recovery of demand remains on track for 2023, while close-to-complete RevPAR recovery is still projected for 2024. Photo credit: Dilok Klaisataporn /iStock/Getty Images Plus

Worsened pandemic metrics and assumptions of limited early-year travel have led STR and Tourism Economics to slightly downgrade their latest U.S. hotel forecast. 

Full recovery of demand remains on track for 2023, while close-to-complete RevPAR recovery is still projected for 2024.

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In November, STR and Tourism Economics slightly upgraded the final 2020 U.S. hotel forecast. At the time, the companies predicted the industry would recapture 80 percent of demand by the end of 2021, but expected RevPAR to be 34.2 percent lower than in 2019. 

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“While the recent COVID-19 surge has made for a challenging start to the year, our expectation that a strong rebound in travel activity will occur in the second half remains intact,” said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics. “As we emerge from the stiffest periods of the public health crisis and virus-related conditions improve, our collective appetite for travel will kick-start the recovery.”

“These opening months of the year are going to resemble some of the slowest of 2020, but we are optimistic that hotel demand will improve as vaccine distribution becomes more widespread and travel confidence grows,” said Amanda Hite, president of STR. “While the early indicators should be visible in Q2, we expect Q3 to be the point where leisure travel shifts into high gear and corporate and group business show more progressive improvement. That will feed into a 2022 that shows a higher level of recovery.”