Despite Optimism for Summer Travel, The Real Rebound Might Have to Wait a Year

Happy parents and their small kids going on road trip in convertible car.
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The rebound in travel and tourism that many hoped to see this summer might have to wait another year, as sluggish bookings and a gas crisis in the United States weigh on the industry.

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On Wednesday, CNN Business reported that companies ranging from Florida-based cruise operator Carnival and California-based events promotor Live Nation to German tourism company TUI Group have seen few signs that a full-blown comeback is imminent.

Carnival said this week that it canceled additional sailings even as it planned for a potential July restart on select ships docked in Florida and Texas. Like most cruise operators, Carnival has had to suspend operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, TUI reported 2.6 million bookings for the summer — enough to give the company optimism about a decent 2021 travel season, but still down 69% from the same period in pre-pandemic 2019. The company also said bookings had actually declined slightly since its last update, which likely means many customers are delaying their travel plans while governments still work to contain the pandemic.

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Meanwhile, Live Nation said it expects big events to start later this year and into 2022 because of the time it takes to put together global arena and stadium tours.

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The feeling among many industry watchers is that a full travel and tourism comeback will probably have to wait until 2022. Complicating matters right now is the shortage of gasoline, brought about in part by the recent cyberattack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline. Many gas stations along the East Coast have run out of fuel, leading to higher prices and long lines at stations that do have gas.

Before the recent news, tourism officials had been upbeat about this summer’s travel season.  As the Washington Post reported in April, average rates for hotel rooms in June, July and August had been skyrocketing, reflecting higher demand as consumers grow more confident that the COVID-19 vaccination rollout will ease restrictions and open up the economy. Booking volume had been about double the volume last summer, according to travel tech firm RateGain.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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