We officially enter the fall season next week, and many of us have made travel plans, or hope to soon. But what does the variant situation mean for the state of travel?
HuffPost asked experts to break down the trends they’re seeing right now and predictions for how travel will look in the coming months.
Travel demand is already softening.
“Concerns over the delta variant are already affecting fall travel,” Willis Orlando, member operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights, told HuffPost. “All summer long, there was steady momentum towards a return to normal-ish demand for travel, particularly domestically. But in the last couple of months, this momentum has sputtered out.”
He noted that flight search volume on the site briefly reached 2019 levels in late June but is now down about 35% from where it was two years ago.
“When we polled a sample of our 2 million+ members about travel attitudes, 74% said Delta had affected their travel plans, with 35% saying they weren’t planning on traveling until 2022,” Orlando said.
International trips will be less popular.
“The vast majority of travel is still domestic, as travelers remain leery of jaunting too far from home,” said Val Anthony, lead research analyst at Tripadvisor. “This August, 84% of travel booked by Americans on Tripadvisor was domestic, with just 16% international.”
When Americans travel internationally, they need proof of a negative coronavirus test to reenter the United States. Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of The Points Guy, believes the rise of variants have made that requirement a bigger consideration for travelers than it was earlier this summer.
“Consumers are seeing that even vaccinated people can get the virus, which, while you can avoid hospitalization in most cases, people still don’t want to get stuck abroad in a foreign country and have to extend their trip by weeks and incur thousands in costs,” he explained.
“So one of the trends we’re going to see is that international travel is going to be suppressed even more and domestic travel will be popular for those that want to travel.”
“Where the vaccination rate is more established, we are seeing evidence of travelers feeling more assured and confident in getting back out there.”
– Brian McGuinness, IHG Hotels & Resorts
For those who do travel internationally, the choice of destination will depend on the risks and regulations in place in the receiving country.
“For international travel, you should monitor the country’s entry and exit requirements,” said Phil Dengler, co-founder of The Vacationer. “Current and accurate information can be found on the country in question’s U.S. Embassy website. Cross the country off your list if you cannot meet the requirements or if the COVID-19 spread is too high.”
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