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Survey: Nearly 60% of Americans unlikely to travel for holidays

Higher gas prices expected to further dampen travel

WASHINGTON – While rising vaccination rates against COVID-19 have increased travelers’ comfort levels, most Americans are still opting to stay home this holiday season, according to a new national survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) conducted by Morning Consult.

The survey found that 29% of Americans are likely to travel for Thanksgiving and 33% are likely to travel for Christmas—an increase from 21% and 24%, respectively, compared to 2020. Those who do plan to travel over the holidays expect to drive, but rising gas prices may dampen those plans.

The survey of 2,200 adults was conducted Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, 2021, by Morning Consult on behalf of AHLA. Key findings include the following:

  • Just one in three Americans plans to travel for Christmas (33% likely to travel, 59% unlikely), and even fewer plan to travel for Thanksgiving (29% likely, 61% unlikely)
  • 68% of Thanksgiving travelers plan to stay with family or friends, while 22% plan to stay in a hotel
  • 66% of Christmas travelers plan to stay with family or friends, while 23% plan to stay in a hotel
  • 52% of Americans say they plan to take fewer trips and 53% plan to take shorter trips due to rising gas prices
  • Leisure travelers are making several adjustments to their travel plans based on the current state of the pandemic, including only traveling within driving distance (58%), taking fewer trips (48%), and taking shorter trips (46%)
  • Among parents with children under the age of 12, 41% say the availability of vaccines for kids ages 5-11 will make them more likely to travel
  • 68% of Thanksgiving travelers and 64% of Christmas travelers plan to drive, compared to 11% and 14%, respectively, who plan to fly

“While vaccines have helped travelers feel more comfortable, rising gas prices and continued concerns about the pandemic are making many Americans hesitant to travel during the holidays. Despite a slight expected uptick in holiday travel this year, hotels will continue to face economic fallout from the pandemic, underscoring the need for targeted federal relief, such as the Save Hotel Jobs Act, to support the industry and its workforce until travel fully returns,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Despite being among the hardest hit, hotels are the only segment of the hospitality and leisure industry yet to receive direct pandemic relief from Congress. That is why AHLA and UNITE HERE, the largest hospitality workers’ union in North America, joined forces recently to call on Congress to pass the bipartisan Save Hotel Jobs Act.

The poll was conducted Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, among a national sample of 2,200 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, educational attainment, age, race and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

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