Travellers to the US should not expect an over-supply of cheap accommodation next year, according to new research.
Adam Sacks, Oxford Economics’ president, tourism economics, said: “US hotel room demand, we expect to be down 39% this year,” but added occupancy would rise to 81% of 2019 levels next year, “because domestic demand is picking up”.
Sacks was speaking in the Transatlantic Airscape session during Brand USA Travel Week. He predicted international travel to the US would not recover fully until 2025, with 2023 at 76% of the prior peak.
Josh Earnest, United Airlines’ chief communications officer, said there were reasons to be optimistic: “We are past what some people might describe as a shock and awe phase. We are turning our attention to the other side of this crisis.”
Earnest said United was confident of “pent-up” demand for transatlantic travel. “The thing inhibiting it is very strong quarantine requirements.” A trial of Covid tests for United passengers travelling from San Francisco to Hawaii had been so successful extra flights had been laid on, he said.
“The development of a vaccine is going to be so important. Our expectation is demand is going to hover around the 50% level until a vaccine is delivered and distributed widely.”
He said a vaccine would prompt business travel to return. “That’s when airlines will recover.”
Earnest said there had been no evidence of widespread contamination on aircraft, unlike, he said, at a White House event. “That’s a credit to our industry.”
He added there was a need for partnerships between airlines, hotels and transport companies to provide a seamless Covid-free experience.
“You can imagine a situation where hotels work together with airlines to reassure people that from end-to-end travel they will be in a safe environment. I have not seen anybody yet putting together a suite of products.”