DESPITE RISING NUMBERS of COVID-19 cases in several states, travel over the July 4 weekend exceeded expectations, according to travel data company Arrivalist. It was still a matter of loss from last year, but travel was down 9 percent rather than the 11 percent predicted for the weekend.
The more than 36 million travelers preferred remote destinations, such as Mt. Rushmore where President Trump held an event over the weekend, according to Arrivalist’s daily travel index, which measures only trips taken by car that are longer than 50 miles. The index reached 113.9 percent on July 3, making that Friday the busiest day for road trips so far in 2020.
Visitation to Mt. Rushmore was up more than 24 percent compared to last year. Visitors came from closer originations that last year, traveling 390 miles versus 629 last year—a decrease of 38 percent.
COVID-19 did affect travel patterns. Resident travel from states where COVID-19 cases are increasing was 10 percent below the national average. By comparison, states with low or decreasing COVID-19 cases almost doubled the level of travel activity in those areas compared to Memorial Day weekend earlier this year.
“There were some indications that travelers are choosing destinations in areas with fewer COVID-19 cases over destinations where cases are increasing,” said Cree Lawson, Arrivalist founder and CEO. “Montana, for example, had one of the biggest spikes in visitation over the July 4 weekend. That state also leads the country with the fewest reported cases per 100,000 residents.”
The five states with the highest increases in road trips are:
- Delaware, up 108.3 percent
- New Jersey, up 104.3 percent
- Massachusetts, up 100.7 percent
- Connecticut, up 100.3 percent
- New Hampshire, up 86.2 percent
“There has definitely been a shift in travel activity over the last few weeks,” said Lawson. “While we saw a surge in road trips from the southern region during Mother’s Day weekend, we saw a surge in road trips in New England and eastern states over Independence Day. This may be due to COVID-19’s impact in southern and western states.”