No Recovery in International Flights or Domestic Hotels for Years to Come

Mish

The tourism industry is bracing for a slower recovery as travel surveys portend gloom.

Travel Blues Here to Stay

The WSJ reports Travel’s Covid-19 Blues Are Likely Here to Stay—‘People Will Go Out of Business’

After declaring that 2020 was the worst year for tourism on record, with one billion fewer international arrivals, the United Nations World Tourism Organization says prospects for a 2021 rebound have worsened. In October, 79% of experts polled by the agency believed a 2021 rebound was possible. Only 50% said they believed that in January, and some 41% didn’t think travel would reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024 or beyond.

As of Feb. 1, air tickets issued for international travel in the coming six months were 15.5% of what they were in 2019, down roughly 2 percentage points compared with Jan. 1, according to travel analytics company ForwardKeys. Scheduled flights this month are down nearly 50% globally compared with February 2019, with some markets down about 90%, according to data company Cirium.

In the U.S., the demand for hotels isn’t forecast to return to 2019 levels until 2023, with room prices not fully recovering until 2025, according to a joint forecast from hotel-data company STR and Tourism Economics. Gross travel bookings in the U.S., including hotels, air tickets and car rentals, are expected to still be below 2019 levels in 2024, estimates travel-market research firm Phocuswright. It forecasts the recovery in Europe will be even slower.

Travel Surveys 

The last set of surveys was too optimistic. The vaccine was no panacea, yet.

Are the surveys now too gloomy? 

Creatures of Habit

I had been thinking about this topic a lot recently. Those surveys are gloomier than I expected even though I would not have described myself as a bloomin' optimist to say the least.

But take my own personal experience as a possible example. We went to karaoke every Friday and Saturday night and often on Tuesdays as well. 

We missed it very badly at first but less so now. 

Attitudes Change

What about all the people who traveled to work who ate lunch out everyday but now stay at home?

What about Zoom meetings instead of meeting in person? 

Some people traveled twice or three times a year but have gone nowhere for a full year now. 

Is there pent up demand? How much? Some will decide, hey I am happy now just to stay home or travel to closer destinations.

What about all the millennials who stretched to buy a home and need to spend less elsewhere?

Boomers like everyone else are getting older. At some point, for health reasons not necessarily related to covid, activity slows.  

There are lots of reasons to believe the new surveys. 

Good News?

If the surveys are accurate, airplane tickets and lodging will remain cheaper even in peak season. 

There may not be someone sitting next to you in the plane when you travel and ability to easily reschedule tickets at no cost will be here for at least a while.

This is good news not for the industry, but for people willing to travel. 

Competing Forces

The more people attempting to take advantage of the good news and cheaper prices at a personal level, the faster prices and demand will recover for the travel industry.

Are You Traveling Less and If So Do You Miss It?

Mish

Comments (43)
No. 1-18
Realist
Realist

I have been reducing my travel (air, auto etc) every year, for 15 years in a row, in order to consciously reduce my carbon footprint. 2020 was a big drop. I probably jumped 10 years forward in my planned reduction. I suspect 2021 will be similar to 2020. But 2022 might be the first year in 17 where my carbon footprint goes up a bit. Still, it would be nice to be able to travel again. There are a lot of people I would like to see in person.

Doug78
Doug78

That's a lot questions. People like to travel so they will travel. People like to eat out so they will eat out. If the prices are low the all the better. I remember vacationing in Croatia a couple of years are the end of the civil war. The prices were so low you could live like a king. Went back seven years later and prices were back up to European levels. The same thing will happen now. For companies it's a different animal. A lot depends on if less travel and on-site work is better for the bottom line and that depends on the company and the industry. Hi Realist. Up early I see. You never did tell me which branch of science you are in.

Johnson1
Johnson1

It is interesting how hotel stock prices are pretty much back to pre-covid levels are higher.

That being said, I am looking at a trip in August to Hawaii and already finding it hard to find rooms at specific places I want to stay. Also looking at a trip to Florida coast this summer and right now, no discounts versus normal prices.

Mr. Purple
Mr. Purple

From 2015-2019 for work I averaged 2 weeks on the road per month. In 2020, my traveling stopped cold in mid-March. It will be one year soon. Thank Congress for PPP.

My main client has aggressive goals that keep getting hammered by reality. The current goal is April 2021. We'll see...

My sense is no return to even 75% of normal until 2022. But hoping for Q4 2021.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Realist or anyone else. Comments on this.

Upheaval and extinctions linked to magnetic reversal 42,000 years ago

Sechel
Sechel

One of Trump's stupidest quotes was the cure can't be worse than the disease when it comes to Covid-19. It's abundantly clear that business activity and the economy can't fully get back on track until we tame the virus which will mean getting everyone vaccinated and for some time continue with testing and mitigation. We'll probably have a Covid passport , meaning a successful inoculation as a requirement for airline travel

nzyank
nzyank

There is lots of pent up demand that could result in a very sharp, strong recovery - predicting when this occurs is more difficult.

PecuniaNonOlet
PecuniaNonOlet

Many F100 employers still have travel bans for business unless absolutely critical. No business wants to lose people to covid and be left crippled. As for personal travel, I am leery of travelimg after seeing periodic videos of idiots throwing temper tantrums about masks, flights getting delayed or rerouted and then you have quarantine rules that change on a whim.

Yeah, travel and entertainment are gonna keep taking hits.

Kimo
Kimo

Would probably be a good idea to stop quarantining healthy people. That will be a giddy-up moment for travel.

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

Pratt witney 777 engine bring grounded. Japan grounds 777 as well.

PostCambrian
PostCambrian

I can't wait to start traveling again. But until I find out how the vaccine works with the new variants I will probably stick to developed countries, not developing countries. Also I don't want to be the cause of anyone catching Covid (just by being out exposed to travelers and everyone else) especially in a developing country where they may not have access to a vaccine.

Duncan Burns
Duncan Burns

Amusing. Coming from a #lockdown state, many children of teachers went to Florida and beyond. Doubtful tech company's will every do an expose' of tracking and cross-referencing with teachers who champion #lockdowns, but found it amusing seeing the kids phones of those who did during this school break.

Denninger had a great rant on the entire issue, and Youyang Gu analysis since the beginning had been one of the most accurate since the start. Check Github for any questions lol. The fraud must continue.

Anda
Anda

Tickets cannot stay low without subsidy. Even before, airlines were competing to bankruptcy. So the question is maybe how long they are able to hold out, or how much subsidy will be poured in and for how long ?

triumph750
triumph750

Personally I have traveled to 10 different cities in 2019 followed by 10 more cities in 2020. I'm 71 years old, healthy and took advantage of round trip fares on Frontier generally under $80 RT no matter where I've flown. I wear a mask religiously in public and disinfect my surroundings on the plane with alcohol wipes. I generally use public transportation in every city it's practical.I have elite status on the airline from so many trips so I get free baggage perks and front row seating and early boarding. What I have found is that this country's cities are in a world of hurt . Vast skyscrapers with no-one there, empty modern hotels in downtowns with maybe 5% occupancy, only the homeless there. Curiously every city is still building new high rises and hotels. The suburbs have an aura of normality compared to the city centers. Some people have told me I'm nuts but never hv I really felt threatened. I think that if you take care of your own self, it's possible to still travel. The costs to stay in AirBnb or even major hotels can be found for fractions of their former rates. Generally I go to eat local food, go to museums,zoos and botanical gardens. These places have generally been empty and quite safe. My advice is to take the breathless hysteria about travel with a calculated approach and rely on yourself to keep yourself safe.

Eddie_T
Eddie_T

Business-wise I only travel to get training....and I’ve put off all training that wasn’t mandated......or over a year now. I do expect to go back to that this year, now that I’m vaccinated and hopefully at least somewhat less at risk to get COVID or give it to someone else. Looking forward to getting more data on that to be reassured. Still too soon to feel safe....but by summer maybe.

Personally I travel for pleasure by plane typically a few times a year, mostly domestic. We were talking about booking a ski trip next month until the big storm made us miss a week’s work.....not sure we’ll go now.

In general money is still tight, we are still in COVID mode at work, and it seems early to be relaxing precautions that have worked very well so far. If COVID drops to very low levels as some are predicting, I’d be happy to get back to a more normal existence, and that would involve a little travel at least.

davebarnes2
davebarnes2

We are ready to travel when it is "mask free flying".
I am not going to wear mask for 16+ hours without a break.
I am a big fat baby about that. It is one thing for me to mask up in a store, but quite another for 3 airports, 2 plane rides, 1 Uber ride, and 1 train ride..

AlexStel
AlexStel

I'm under the impression that given the opportunity, people are more likely to travel in Europe as of this year, and in 2022 if governments are capable of providing enough vaccines there'll be a substantial increase for the tourism industry.


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