THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC may be waning, but other factors are leading many people to stay home this holiday season, according to a survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and conducted by Morning Consult. High gas prices are a major reason given for opting out of Thanksgiving and Christmas journeys.
AHLA’s survey found that only 29 percent of Americans are likely to travel for Thanksgiving and 33 percent are likely to travel for Christmas. That is still a 21 percent and 24 percent increase respectively from 2020. The survey questioned 2,200 adults between Oct. 30 to Nov. 1.
“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,” said Chip Rogers, AHLA’s president and CEO. “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.”
Most of those who do plan to travel, 68 percent of Thanksgiving travelers and 64 percent of Christmas travelers, will be driving, the survey found. For Thanksgiving, 11 percent plan to fly while 14 percent will take to the skyways for Christmas.
At the same time, 52 percent said they plan to take fewer trips and 53 percent plan to take shorter trips due to rising gas prices. Also, 68 percent of Thanksgiving travelers plan to stay with family or friends, while 22 percent plan to stay in a hotel. For Christmas, 66 percent plan to stay with family or friends and 23 percent plan to stay in a hotel.
Other changes in travel plans for this year include 58 percent planning to travel only within driving distance, 48 percent are taking fewer trips and 46 percent are taking shorter trips. Among parents with children under the age of 12, 41 percent said the availability of vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11 will make them more likely to travel.
In contrast, recent reports from AAA Travel and Motel 6 forecast a surge in travel for Thanksgiving holiday weekend. AAA was predicting that as many as 53.4 million people would travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13 percent from 2020.