Public Relations Manager, VA
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Senior Specialist, Public and Government Affairs, VA
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Richmond, VA (Monday, May 24, 2021): AAA expects a significant rebound in travel this summer, as evidenced by the results of an exclusive survey of Virginians that reveals 62% of respondents are considering or planning to take a trip this summer, and AAA Travel is already seeing an increase in bookings that reflects the renewed enthusiasm.*
“Optimism coinciding with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and growing consumer confidence are fueling a strong desire to travel this summer as the US takes steps toward putting the pandemic behind us,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The AAA poll shows that Virginians have a pent-up demand for quick getaways and even longer, more extravagant trips – so called ‘Revenge Travel.’”
AAA’s poll asked Virginians about the sentiment that best reflects their feelings about traveling this summer:
- 31% feel that their travel will be driven by their need for a “quick getaway”
- 20% are planning a longer or more extravagant trip – so called “Revenge Travel”
- 26% are choosing to stay at home this summer
- 23% are undecided, but say they could make a last minute decision to travel.
COVID Remains a Factor in Some Summer Travel Planning
Summer travel trends are also indicative that people are feeling more comfortable traveling as COVID rates are decreasing. Adding to that, state restrictions are lessening and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance says that fully vaccinated people can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic, including domestic travel at low risk to themselves, while taking proper precautions.
AAA’s poll also revealed COVID remains a factor influencing Virginians’ summer travel plans:
- 31% say they still have COVID-related travel concerns
- 22% have a strong desire to travel due to pandemic restrictions from the last year
- 20% feel that their ability to be fully vaccinated is the driving force behind travel plans
- 26% say that uncertainty about activities and attractions at their destinations is a consideration as part of the planning process
According to the same poll, in Virginia, 60% of respondents said that when thinking about their next trip, they plan to travel with only those in their household or those in their established COVID ‘bubble.’
“COVID-related safety is still a factor for many travelers, some of whom may be venturing out for the first time in over a year,” Meade added.
As the AAA poll shows, American views about traveling as we emerge from the COVID pandemic are complex. Knowledge of the latest COVID-related restrictions and protocols will be a critical component in all planning.
“Being informed and planning in advance can make the difference between a great vacation and a travel nightmare,” said Micki Dudas, Director, Leisure Travel, for AAA Club Alliance. “AAA is encouraging travelers to check and re-check requirements at all stop off points and destinations as they can change up to the last minute.”
Travel advisors are an excellent resource for not only travel planning, but also for what documentation is required and much more. In most cases, they can provide free expert travel advice and can help travelers navigate the complexities of traveling during COVID.
Memorial Day – the Unofficial Start to Summer Travel
The unofficial start to summer, the Memorial Day weekend, is indicative that people are feeling more comfortable traveling as COVID rates are decreasing in the United States and the US takes steps to putting the pandemic behind us.
AAA expects the number of Virginians traveling over the Memorial Day holiday this year to return to 88% of those who traveled pre-pandemic, in 2019, when a record number of Virginians traveled for the holiday weekend.
According to the AAA poll, most Virginians who are staying home for Memorial Day say COVID is not the reason as they don’t usually travel for this holiday.
A total of just over one million (1,044,700) Virginians are predicted to once again kick- off the official start of the summer holiday travel season by celebrating Memorial Day with a trip - an increase of more than 60% over last year when much of the country and the world was under COVID travel restrictions, if not locked down.*
- Auto: The Great American Road Trip has been the most popular type of travel during the pandemic and has historically been the number one choice for the Memorial Day Holiday and that still holds true. The majority of Virginians, 967,400, are forecast to travel by vehicle this Memorial Day, an increase of 52% over 2020.
- Air: The number of Virginians flying in 2021 is expected to be almost six times what it was in 2020 when multiple factors kept most people from flying. More than 73,000 Virginia residents will travel by air, a 577% increase from 2020.
- Travelers are reminded that some inflight amenities may be limited or not offered and that some airlines are still limiting capacity with blocked middle seats. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is also now allowing one oversized liquid container of hand sanitizer of up to 12 ounces. Masks are required at all airports and all aircraft. International travelers, including US citizens, must have a negative test result or proof of recovery from COVID before boarding flight to US. COVID testing is not required domestically, except for travel to and from Hawaii, and from island to island in Hawaii.
- Other: Travel by trains, buses, rails and cruise ships remains low at 4,200 passengers, but is a 22% increase over 2020.
Great American Road Trip
As Americans begin their Great American Road Trips this summer, AAA is here and ready to help. We’ve compiled our favorite trip-planning resources, backed by more than 100 years of road-tested experience and expertise. AAA.com/RoadTrip is a free resource to help travelers find inspiration, explore destinations, plan the perfect route and get their vehicle road trip ready.
Regardless of how you plan to get to your destination, AAA advises travelers to consult with a knowledgeable travel advisor to help plan their trips this Memorial Day. To get started and to learn more, visit AAA.com/Travel
*The AAA survey of 601 residents in Virginia was conducted April 22-23, 2021 by Public Policy Polling. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4%.
** AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 27 through Monday, May 31. The five-day holiday period is consistent with previous Memorial Day holiday periods. This forecast was finalized during the week of April 12.
In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment, output, household net worth, asset prices including stock indices, interest rates, housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. For the 2021 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast, IHS Markit also examined changes in the IHS Markit containment index regarding COVID‑19–related restrictions and activity.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 62 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Virginia. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, access a COVID travel restriction map, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information on joining or renewing a Membership, visit www.AAA.com.