WASHINGTON — A new national survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) shows many Americans are not expected to travel this holiday season. Results show 72 per cent of Americans are unlikely to travel for Thanksgiving and 69 per cent are unlikely to travel for Christmas, compounding the challenges for the hotel industry during this public-health crisis.

Business travel has been even more impacted. Only eight per cent of Americans say they’ve taken an overnight business trip since March and just 19 per cent of respondents who are currently employed — or eight per cent of all adults — expect to travel for business within the next six months. Sixty-two per cent of employed Americans have no plans to stay in a hotel for business.

The survey of 2,200 adults was conducted November 2 to 4, 2020 by Morning Consult on behalf of AHLA. Key findings of the survey include:

• Only three in 10 (32 per cent) of respondents have taken an overnight vacation or leisure trip since March
• 21 per cent of Americans say they’re likely to travel for Thanksgiving, 24 per cent are likely to travel for Christmas
• Looking ahead to next year, 24 per cent are likely to travel for spring break
• 44 per cent say their next hotel stay for vacation or leisure travel will be a year or more from now or they have no plans to stay in a hotel.

“This holiday season will be an especially difficult time for all Americans, and our industry is no exception,” says Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “Fewer people will be travelling and business travel remains nearly non-existent. That’s why it’s so important for Congress to pass a relief bill now. Millions of Americans are out of work and thousands of small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open. We cannot afford to wait until the next Congress is sworn in for relief. They need help now.”

The hotel industry was the first impacted by the pandemic and will be one of the last to recover. Hotel occupancy rates partially rebounded from record lows in April, but have continued to decline since Labour Day. According to STR, nationwide hotel occupancy was 44.4 per cent for the week ending October 31, compared to 62.6 per cent the same week last year. Occupancy in urban markets is just 35.6 per cent, down from 71.8 per cent one year ago.

As a result of the significant drop in travel, more than half of hotels report they have less than half of their typical, pre-crisis staff working currently full time. Without further government assistance, 74 per cent of hotels say they would be forced into further layoffs. Business and group travel are not expected to reach 2019 peak-demand levels again until 2023. As a result of the sharp drop in travel demand from COVID-19, state and local tax revenue from hotel operations is estimated to drop by $16.8 billion in 2020.

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