Travel Sentiment Strengthens in U.S. and Europe

By Michael Muroff | December 2, 2021

Whether it's visiting the beaches of sunny California or taking a historical tour of Versailles, tourists have been waiting to cross these desired destinations off their bucket list. Many of these dreams, of course, have been abandoned in response to the pandemic. Government-imposed travel restrictions along with concerns surrounding personal health and safety have deterred tourists from going abroad. Now, nearly a year and a half after the start of the pandemic, sentiment for travel appears to be strengthening.

In early March 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a world-wide pandemic. Shortly thereafter, the White House responded by placing a travel ban on non-U.S. travelers coming from Europe. Governments across the globe responded by heightening their level of travel restrictions. The movement of tourists to and from the United States and Europe dramatically fell. As a result, workers and business owners in the hospitality industry experienced significant job losses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the leisure and hospitality industry in the United States alone lost 3.7 million workers in 2020—more than any other industry during that time.

Yet, as tourists anticipate traveling more in the coming months, the dent in the hospitality industry will likely see a significant turn-around. As of November 8th, the White House ended its travel ban on international flights. The influx of tourists, as well as long-separated family members and friends, is expected to be substantial, especially with the holidays coming just around the corner. According to Delta Air Lines, as of November 4th, “Delta has seen a 450% increase in international point-of-sale bookings versus the six weeks prior to the announcement,” adding, “the strong demand is reflected across both leisure and business travelers to popular destinations such as New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston, and Orlando.”

Similarly, the European Travel Commission, in a recent October 2021 press release and study, noted the growing sentiment for travel within Europe. The ETC concluded that “66% of Europeans plan trips through March 2022,” adding that, “an increasing number of Europeans are no longer in a ‘waiting mode’ to travel and feel much more confident to embark on spontaneous trips.”

For American tourists, travel opportunities to Europe continue to rise. Delta Air Lines announced on November 8th that “Delta’s summer 2022 schedule will jump 90% in additional capacity across the pond, compared with summer 2021. In total, Delta plans to operate up to 73 daily flights to 25 destinations from 10 U.S. gateway cities.”

While travel sentiment between the United States and Europe is growing, it is unclear whether these short-term developments will contribute to a long-term upward trend. In terms of its transmissibility and its public response, the future of COVID-19 remains unknown. Vaccination rates, travel restrictions, and overall safety will play a large role in whether or not tourists will decide to travel in the future—but for now, travelers continue to be optimistic.

Edited by Gigi Santis and Joseph Barbieri