US & European Regional Travel on the Rise

Source: Cape Cod Summer Tourist Destination

Marriott CEO's Global Hotel Perspective
The pandemic was particularly inhospitable to the global hospitality industry.  As Covid-19 cases soared, air travel ground to a halt, lockdowns forced people to shelter at home and bookings at global hotel chains plummeted.  At Marriott, room occupancy rates dropped to 5% in some US hotel properties and to 7% in Marriott hotels in China.  The rates have rebounded in China to 40% and in the US to 20%.  CEO Arne Sorenson says he's starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel for global hotels:  a pickup in personal and business travel.

Profound Economic Impact
Sorenson says the impact of the pandemic on Marriott's global business is worse than 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis combined. He doesn't expect global occupancy to return to the average of 71% for a few years.  But there are positive signs.  US downloads of top online travel agency apps like Expedia have comeback to pre-pandemic levels.  That means that US consumers and businesses are looking to travel again.  The journey is likely to ramp up with caution.

European Travel Bubbles and Changing Regional Travel Trends
The first significant pickup in travel is expected to be regional trips.  They are driveable, less expensive and an opportunity to travel without the close confinement of long distance flights and exposure to Covid-19.  In the US, 31% of Americans plan on taking a road trip this summer. In Europe, regional "Travel Bubbles" are emerging. In May, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania opened their borders to travelers in Europe's first travel bubble.  The nearby countries saw their Covid cases coming under control and they are facilitating regional travel within their bubble.  These are some key milestones in the new normal of travel in the Covid-19 world.


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