As the US continues to grapple with the deadly coronavirus pandemic, AAA is predicting a 29 per cent drop in travel during the holiday season this year, with three-quarters of Americans expected to stay home.
The projection was published in the agency’s Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast report on Tuesday, which is predicting 34million fewer travelers compared to last year’s season between December 23 through January 3.
The slump will be the largest decline on record, ending a streak of 11 consecutive years of holiday travel growth. It also marks the lowest travel volume in the country since 2002.
While 75% of Americans are expected to stay home for the holidays this year, at least 84.5million will still travel, according to AAA
AAA Travel Forecast report on Tuesday showed the number of travelers is expected to drop 29 per cent – or by 34million
‘While Thanksgiving is traditionally spent gathering with friends and family, the year-end holidays are when Americans often venture out for longer, more elaborate vacations. That will not be the case this year,’ said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel.
‘Public health concerns, official guidance not to travel, and an overall decline in consumer sentiment have encouraged the vast majority of Americans to stay home for the holidays.’
According to the report, auto travel is expected to fall by 25 per cent, while air travel is predicted to fall by 60 per cent, with just 2.9million people expected to take flights – the lowest number since 2009.
‘Travel by other modes (including bus, rail and cruise ship) will fall by at least 87 per cent to less than half a million travelers,’ the report states.
The majority of people who decide to travel will do so by car, with road trips accounting for 96 per cent of holiday travel
Most Americans who decide to travel will do so by car, with road trips accounting for 96 per cent of holiday travel.
But even with the sharp decline, which comes amid the CDC’s warnings to stay home to limit the spread of infection, 84.5million Americans are still expected to ignore the advice and carry on with their travel plans.
The agency has advised people to take note of the risks involved and follow public health guidance.
It comes after millions of people last month ignored the CDC’s recommendation to avoid travel during Thanksgiving.
The country has since seen a troubling uptick in infections across the country, with the death toll surpassing 300,000 this week.
Earlier this month, the CDC urged Americans not to travel during the year-end holidays, but suggested they get tested before and after if they must.
The CDC is urging people to get tested before and after their trip if they do choose to travel
The agency also announced new guidelines that shorten recommended quarantines after close contact with someone infected with coronavirus.
The agency said the risk in a shorter quarantine is small, but that the change makes following the guidance less of a hardship.
The no-travel advice echoes recommendations for Thanksgiving but many Americans ignored it. With COVID-19 continuing to surge, the CDC added the testing option.
‘Cases are rising, hospitalizations are increasing , deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase,’ the CDC’s Dr Henry Walke said during a briefing.
He said any travel-related surge in cases from travel would likely be apparent about a week to 10 days after Thanksgiving.
The virus has infected more than 16million Americans and killed at least 300,000 since January.
‘The safest thing to do is to postpone holiday travel and stay home,’ said Dr. Cindy Friedman, another CDC official.
‘Travel volume was high over Thanksgiving, and even if small numbers were infected, that could result in ‘hundreds of thousands of new infections.’
‘Travel is a door-to-door experience that can spread virus during the journey and also into communities that travelers visit or live,’ she added.
For those who decide to travel, COVID-19 tests should be considered one to three days before the trip and again three to five days afterward, the CDC said.
The agency also recommended travelers reduce non-essential activities for a full week after they return or for 10 days if not tested afterward.
And it emphasized the importance of continuing to follow precautions including masks, social distancing and frequent hand-washing.