US Travel Recovery Insights

February 2021

According to US Travel Association’s latest travel recovery insights, travel spending in February 2021 tallied just $51.4 billion. That’s on par with January but reflected a 38% drop below February 2020 levels. Traveler sentiment, especially on the leisure side, trends up. Nearly 90% of leisure travelers surveyed report having travel plans in the next 6 months.

Key Highlights

The following insights represent a collaboration between a variety of leading travel industry organizations. US Travel plans to provide monthly updates, so we invite you to check this page for updates. Access to the full dashboard is available to US Travel Association members.

Covid Graphic US Travel

February 2021 Economic Impact

National Analysis

  •  In February 2021, travel spending tallied just $51.4 billion—roughly the same as January—and reflected a 38% drop below February 2020 levels

  •  February's 38% year-over-year (y/y) decline was slightly improved from January’s (-40%) and the previous couple of months

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in more than $560 billion in cumulative losses for the U.S. travel economy through February 2021

  • The continual depressed level of travel spending has caused a loss of $69 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue

Domestic Leisure

  • Americans are gearing up for a spending spree as consumer confidence continues to grow

    • Two-thirds (66%) who have remained employed throughout the pandemic were able to save more than they otherwise would have

    • Almost one-third (30%) of $100K+ households expect to spend more than they did last spring

  • Following the May 1 goal to open vaccine eligibility to all U.S. adults, 60% are confident we will ‘return to normal’ by summer
  • Over half of American travelers believed they would receive some stimulus payment from the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act and close to four in 10 (38%) were likely to spend some portion of their stimulus check on travel

  • Nearly nine in 10 travelers agree that having a trip planned gives them something to look forward to and that planning travel makes them excited (63%), happy (53%) and hopeful (53%) 

  • A record high 74% of American travelers did some sort of travel planning and dreaming in the past week alone

  • Close to nine in 10 (87%) of American travelers now have travel plans in the next six months—the highest level since March 2020

    • When choosing destinations to visit, half of travelers are looking for clear health and safety protocols and four in 10 place importance on mask wearing and social distancing

  • Once it appears the spread of the virus is diminishing across the U.S., close to half (47%) of Americans indicated they would stay in a hotel in the next three months while more than half (55%) still anticipate it will take them six months or more to fly on a plane

Source: Harris Poll, Destination Analysts, Longwoods International, TripAdvisor, American Express


Business Travel, Meetings and Events

  • Half (52%) of business travel suppliers and travel management companies are more optimistic than last month about the industry’s path to recovery

  • The vast majority of Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) members and stakeholders (84%) say they would be comfortable traveling for business after being vaccinated

  • Nonessential domestic business travel is expected to resume in the second half of 2021

  • Almost all (92%) respondents expect to return to the office by the end of the year

  • 85% meeting attendees and exhibitors in the U.S. believe in-person events are irreplaceable because of their ability to drive commerce and networking that creates partnerships and innovation

  • Government policies that restrict travel or make it difficult (e.g. entry restrictions or mandatory quarantines) were cited as the greatest barrier to business travel

  • Three quarters (74%) of Americans who are working from home said they would consider taking a “workcation”

Source: Global Business Travel Association, Freeman, Harris Poll


USTA members have access to more in depth and customized dashboard data here.