The number of Americans planning a spring break trip has dropped to just one in eight in recent weeks, according to a new poll that the U.S. Travel Association Thursday called a worrying sign for the industry heading into what is traditionally the year's first major travel season.
The polling data by Destination Analysts showed that only 12% of American polled during the last week of February said they were planning a spring break getaway, down from 18% the week prior.
In a press release, U.S. Travel said called the dip "the latest worrying sign for the hard-hit travel industry, which experienced a collapse in travel demand and steep setbacks in 2020 as the pandemic took hold. Of all jobs lost nationwide, 39% are in leisure and hospitality."
Looking forward, however, U.S. Travel CEO Roger Dow said he thinks "it's a number that's going to change very rapidly as we get more news on vaccines."
During a Zoom call with reporters to announce the survey, Dow said one reason for the dip could be that ongoing news coverage about the need to control the pandemic is pushing more people into a wait-and-see mode for news of more opportunities to get vaccines and progress in getting the majority of people vaccinated.
Calls for the government to step up
Dow also renewed his call for Congress to move forward on pandemic relief legislation for the travel industry, including an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program and a tax relief bill that would provide individual credits for leisure travel and meetings and events.
Asked about prospects for reopening international travel, Dow called on the Biden administration to take the lead in developing a consistent set of standards for reopening global travel, and to set a target date for opening the U.S. borders.
"I would say how about saying mid-May, or May 30, we're going to look to get the steps in place so people can begin planning," he said.
Among the issues that need to be resolved, said Tori Barnes, the group's executive vice president for public policy, is agreement on a uniform system for tracking traveler Covid-19 tests and vaccines.
Barnes said there currently are some 32 different systems in place and that the U.S. needs to take the lead on creating an international standard.