US Travel Recovery Insights


According to US Travel Association’s latest travel recovery insights, the travel economy in January measured 40% below last year's levels, resulting in a $36.6 billion loss when compared to January 2020. The Leisure & Hospitality sector lost 600,000 jobs in December 2020 and January 2021.

The outlook for the future is encouraging. The association reports that leisure travel sentiment is showing early signs of travel recovery as the vaccine rollout picks up momentum.

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

January 2021 Economic Impact

National Analysis

  • In January 2021, travel spending tallied just $55.4 billion and reflected a 40% drop below January 2020 levels
  • January's 40% year-over-year (y/y) decline was similar to that of the previous five months, but improved compared to the spring and early summer
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in roughly $530 billion in cumulative losses for the U.S. travel economy through January 2021
  • The continual depressed level of travel spending has caused a loss of $68.6 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue

Source: Tourism Economics

Domestic Leisure

  • As COVID-19 cases continue to decline and more Americans become vaccinated, American travelers' optimism continues to improve with record highs in excitement to travel in the near-term (56%), readiness to travel (60%) and perception of travel activities as safe (54%)
  • Close to six in 10 American travelers (58%) are optimistic they will be able to travel safely in the next six months with most looking towards the summer months
    • Just over one in 10 American travelers (13%) plan to travel for the upcoming Easter holiday and 16% are planning travel for Spring Break
  • More than half of Americans have started to plan (35%) or booked (16%) a future vacation with most trips scheduled to take place in the summer timeframe
    • Beach vacations (33%), road trips (30%), weekend getaways (24%) and outdoor recreation trips (20%) top the list for the type of vacations being considered
  • Pent up demand for travel in 2021 is significant. More than four in 10 (44%) travelers plan to take more trips in 2021 compared to 2020 and 39% say their next vacation will be at least a week long
  • Short booking windows, within three weeks, are expected to continue to dominate into 2021 as uncertainty around COVID-19 remains
  • Travelers are seeking trusted and known brands, flexibility and trips that will rejuvenate and recharge while minimizing risks
    • Seven in 10 feel more confidence traveling in the next 12 months with flexibility such as travel insurance and trip protection, cancellation policies and refunds
  • Younger travelers, urban residents and parents are expected to drive the travel industry's recovery
    • Younger generations have a more positive outlook about traveling in the next 12 months—uncertainty increases with age
    • Parents are twice as likely than those without kids to have traveled since the start of the pandemic and are more optimistic about taking trips in the year ahead

Source: Destination Analysts, Harris Poll, Expedia Media Group Solutions

Business Travel, Meetings and Events

  • The majority (79%) of Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) members and stakeholders say they would be comfortable traveling for business after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination
  • One-quarter of companies plan to resume domestic business travel in the next three months—up from 16% in January
  • Half (52%) of GBTA members and stakeholders support pre-testing for domestic business travel while one-third (33%) do not
  • A majority (58%) of GBTA members and stakeholders support airlines requiring passengers to provide proof of vaccination in order to fly (once vaccines become more readily available)
  • Eight in 10 meeting planners have at least one event booked or contracted, and more than half (56%) have request for proposals (RFPs) in progress
  • Close to half (48%) of meeting planners are looking toward the second half of the year to resume face-to-face events

Source: Global Business Travel Association, i-Meet