Are tourist dollars coming back any time soon?
Although most governments are still advising against “nonessential” international travel, tourist dollars may be heading to beaches, mountains and other nearby vacation spots this summer.
The appeal of local travel was highlighted by findings of an ongoing survey of 1,200 business or leisure travelers from the U.S. Travel Association. Results from the first week of May found:
- Travelers continued to feel safest when traveling in personal cars, cited as safe by 68 percent. That compares to 18 percent for domestic flights and 11 percent for international flights.
- Among leisure excursions, travelers feel safest visiting parks, cited by 40 percent, followed by beaches, 26 percent. Coming in lower among leisure activities were outdoor sporting events, 15 percent; outdoor concerts/festivals, 14 percent; indoor concerts/festivals, 12 percent; and movie theater, also 12 percent.
A more recent survey of 1,000 adults from Longwoods International, fielded June 3, found 69 percent of American travelers are changing their travel plans because of the pandemic, down from a peak of 85 percent on April 8 and the lowest level since mid-March. Also showing improvement from recent weeks, 44 percent would feel safe traveling outside their communities and the same percentage would feel safe dining in local restaurants and shopping at local stores.
That still leaves a lot of cautious travelers. Indeed, the U.S. Travel Association found travel spending for the week ending May 30 remained at about 20 percent of the average level seen in the weeks leading up to the pandemic.
Like retail, the tourist industry is hoping to take advantage of pent up demand, but many festivals and other large events that bring in tourists have been canceled or postponed at least until the fall.
Campgrounds and beaches are starting to open with restrictions. On June 10, Miami Beach reopened but visitors must limit group sizes, wear face-masks where six-feet guidelines are difficult to maintain and refrain from volleyball or Frisbee.
Some resort and beach communities are also concerned that crowds will spread the coronavirus. The Longwoods International survey found only 46 percent of Americans support opening their communities to visitors.
- Travel Intentions Pulse Survey (TIPS): Impact of COVID-19 – U.S. Travel Association
- Weekly Coronavirus Impact On Travel Expenditures In The U.S – U.S. Travel Association
- Americans Becoming More Confident About Traveling and Visitors – Longwoods International
- Michigan’s tourism industry heads into summer of uncertainty – The Detroit News
- As States Start to Reopen, Travelers Feel Safest in Their Cars – Adweek
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are stores and retail districts heavily dependent on tourist traffic facing a more challenging recovery phase than those reliant on spending by locals? What advice would you have for stores reliant on tourist dollars?