Enthusiasm

Americans are ready to travel as their omicron fears fade

Göreme, in the Cappadocia region of central Turkey.

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Americans’ enthusiasm for travel has rebounded to levels not seen since the wide rollout of Covid-19 vaccines last year, as their wanderlust eclipses hesitation fueled by omicron and delta virus variants.

Nearly 82% of people are in a “ready to travel” mindset in 2022 — an increase of 5 percentage points in just the past two weeks, according to a survey of 1,200 U.S. travelers released Monday by Destination Analysts. , a tourism market research company .

The results suggest that would-be travelers have largely brushed off the shock of the highly contagious omicron variant, which has pushed case numbers to record highs and upended travel plans during the winter holiday season.

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“Travel sentiment has recovered very quickly,” said Erin Francis-Cummings, president and CEO of Destination Analysts, which has conducted bi-weekly surveys of U.S. travelers since March 2020. spirit ready to go is essentially the highest it’s been,” she added, calling the metric a leading indicator of optimism.

Over 92% of respondents will take at least one trip in the next 12 months; they expect to take 3.3 leisure trips, on average, the highest share in 14 months, according to the survey conducted Jan. 26-28. More than three-quarters have dreamed of and planned a trip in the past week alone – a pace not seen since last summer.

Enthusiasm for travel had already started to pick up steam around mid-2021, when a wide range of Americans became eligible for a Covid vaccine. But the delta variant dampened that prospect, and again when omicron fears emerged around Thanksgiving.

“Early summer 2021 was the previous high,” Francis-Cummings said. “We’re starting to see that peak again.”

“Omicron has definitely had an impact: people have canceled and postponed trips,” she added. “He didn’t have an impact as deep or as long as delta.”

Pandemic optimism

The North Cascades mountain range spans Washington State and British Columbia, Canada.

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Respondents’ optimism about the course of the pandemic over the next month jumped 11 percentage points to around 42% in the past two weeks, outpacing the post-delta-variant recovery, Destination Analysts said.

About 81% of travelers surveyed by Destination Analysts are fully vaccinated — well above the 68% of all Americans ages 5 and older, the population currently eligible for a vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Travel site Hopper forecasts domestic airfare prices to rise 7%, on average, each month through June, “driven by the recovery in demand after the wave of the omicron variant.”

The feeling of travel recovered very quickly.

Erin Francis Cummings

President and CEO of Destination Analysts

That’s well above the typical monthly 2% airfare increases before the pandemic heading into summer, according to the company’s Consumer Airfare Index released Jan. 19. Domestic prices will reach 2019 levels by April 2022, he said.

Prices for international flights are at record highs for January, averaging $649 round-trip, but are expected to rebound 5%, on average, over the month to June, Hopper said. Prices began to drop the last week of November, when the World Health Organization listed omicron as a variant of concern.

International travel likely poses additional hurdles for travelers, with many countries imposing testing and other entry requirements. (The United States also requires a negative test for re-entry.) Some countries have not yet reopened their borders to American travelers.

Whatever the destination, Americans traveling in 2022 plan to dream big. The average traveler expects to spend more than $4,100 on leisure travel this year, up more than $200 from early January, according to Destination Analysts.