Roger Dow said that the U.S. Travel Association will talk to the Biden administration about incentivizing travel through tax credits, among other way to stimulate travel.
"It used to be said, 'As goes General Motors goes the U.S. economy,'" the U.S. Travel CEO said during a virtual press conference on Friday. "As we've seen in the last nine months, as goes travel goes the U.S. economy. When people are not moving, commerce is not moving."
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Dow said U.S. Travel plans to talk to the new administration about "things like tax credits for travel -- personal and group -- and stimulating travel. Because one of the best ways and quickest ways to put people back to work and get America moving again will be through travel. So that's a big priority of our discussions with them."
He said that according to recent projections from Tourism Economics, travel is expected to come back slowly, leisure travel first, in the first and second quarters of this year, and really rise in the third and fourth quarters.
This is in line with what Erin Francis-Cummings, CEO of Destination Analysts, said she is seeing in weekly surveys of people's travel plans.
"We see a spike in July," she said during the virtual press conference. "There's a ramp-up, but a real spike for July as the month where most Americans say they have plans to travel."
Francis-Cummings said the vaccine has emerged as the main driver of that. "It's probably the most critical factor in Americans feeling safe to travel," she said. She added that more than half of working Americans say they prefer to
use their paid time off "to take a vacation away from home" once a
vaccine is available and accessible.
It's U.S. Travel's hope that Americans use National Plan for Vacation Day, on Jan. 26, to book those vacations. Historically, the day has been meant to encourage Americans, notorious for leaving behind unused vacation time, to plan all of their days off for the coming year.
This year, the association said its latest research confirms that "Americans need a vacation," and research firm Destination Analysts found 63% of Americans say they "desperately" need a vacation after the trauma of the pandemic, and that 59% miss traveling "very much."
The data prepared for U.S. Travel also found that 84% of Americans are excited to plan a vacation in the next six months.
U.S. Travel also said with favorable offers abundant and change or cancellation policies flexible throughout the industry, now is the best time to book. It cautions that as the vaccine becomes more widely available and Americans' pent-up demand for travel creates a booking surge, those offers are likely going to become harder to find.