Occupancies at US Hotels Are at an All Time Low
With the COVID-19 pandemic effectively halting tourism around the world, hotels are facing a rough year with extraordinarily low occupancy rates. In the U.S. specifically, STR and Tourism Economics predict that RevPAR will drop 50.6 percent this year.
STR had originally expected occupancy to only drop 0.3 percent before the United States declared a nationwide emergency. Supply and demand had been expected to increase by 2 percent.
Now, according to Travel Weekly, occupancy is expected to fall by 42.6 percent to 37.9 percent while supply and demand may drop 14.9 percent and 51.2 percent, respectively.
GALLERY: 5 ways virtual travel can alleviate anxiety
These are indeed crazy times as COVID-19 continues to shake the very foundation of our world.
Travel as we know it is at a hiatus. Joyously anticipated vacations have been canceled, and even future trips are up in the air. There’s no doubt these are indeed uncertain and stressful times as many of us are now sheltering in place in order to ride out the pandemic. Yes, it’s a sacrifice, but also an opportunity.
This too shall pass. Even the darkest days won’t last forever. Travel is a vital aspect of life that connects our past, present and future. It’s a continuum of our journey on this planet. And now, as travel is temporarily restricted, it is the perfect time to practice, employ and enjoy virtual travel to feed our souls.
Here are some great ways to do that.
Watch Travel Shows
Networks like the Travel Channel feature a variety of documentaries, reality and practical shows related to travel around the United States and abroad. Additionally, there are a number of travel shows you can stream from home.
From African animal safaris and foodie adventures to ghost hunting, paranormal experiences and off-the-beaten-path journeys, these fascinating shows have always been an inspiration to travelers. They take us to destinations unknown and motivate us to reach out and discover new places.
They not only encourage us to get out there and explore our big, beautiful world, but in these days of physical isolation, they provide the perfect escape. They are safe, but also fun, entertaining, ridiculous and sometimes off-the-wall. And with so many genres out there, everybody can find their favorites.
Order Travel Books
Reading a good book is like taking a journey. And today, it’s not even necessary to physically visit a bookstore, since we can order travel guide reference books and even fictional travel books online. The best part is that we can research the reviews, ratings and ‘look inside’ features before we hit that ‘buy’ button.
Amazon Prime members for example with a Kindle can read travel books for free. For those of us who still love to hold the written words in our hands, there’s a host of books to choose from. Readers can zero in on a city, country or region, journey through every continent on the globe or learn about the best U.S. road trips or how to discover the destinations of a lifetime.
Plan Future Travel
There’s nothing better than believing that life will once again get back to normal, and it will. This includes travel. I don’t know how many times family and friends have said, “We need to sit down and plan that trip but we’re just so busy.”
Well, now is the perfect time to do just that. Planning travel is a perfect distraction from all the mayhem around us. Instead of doing the same old, same old, this is a chance to regroup, rethink and re-evaluate. What are some of the places you’ve always wanted to visit?
Life is a gift, and the world is a treasure trove filled with exotic places, fascinating cultures and unexperienced delights. Forget those routine trips to familiar destinations. Now it’s time to up your game.
If you’ve been dreaming of that trip of a lifetime, this is your opportunity to start looking and planning for it. If nothing else, it provides travelers a sense of hope and a way to exert some control in a world filled with chaos and uncertainty. And when things settle down, it will be your time to make that dream trip a reality.
Share Favorite Travel Memories on Social Media
Rather than the typical recent travel posts we’re used to seeing daily on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, this is the perfect time to highlight destinations that we as travelers have loved and memories we’ve cherished.
Sharing not only makes us feel good re-living those moments, but it is also a source of inspiration to others who may not have had those experiences or traveled to that destination. Those posts may, in turn, inspire us.
Play Travel Games
Nothing relieves anxiety and promotes family bonding like playing a game together. There are hosts of travel trivia games on the market (and perhaps even some already in your closet) that can entertain and inspire homebound adventures.
For the little ones, Candy Land is a great example of fantasy travel. Ticket to Ride provides amazing cross-country train adventures across the vast divides of a host of nations and continents. It’s also a geographic learning experience while sowing the seeds for future travel destinations. Just last year, while playing the game, our grandchildren selected Paris as their next wish-list destination.
Ancient philosopher Rumi once said, “Travel brings power and love back to your life.”
In these anxious times, it’s important to tap into any of the powers that we can. So, ask yourself this: Where am I headed once the COVID-19 crisis is over?
“The industry was already set for a nongrowth year; now throw in this ultimate ‘black swan’ event, and we’re set to see occupancy drop to an unprecedented low,” said Jan Freitag, STR’s senior vice president of lodging insights. “Our historical database extends back to 1987, and the worst we have ever seen for absolute occupancy was 54.6% during the financial crisis in 2009.”
While STR saw the steepest U.S. RevPAR decline in 30 years the week of March 21, Tourism Economics remains optimistic that the hotel industry will see a quick rebound once the pandemic is over. The president of Tourism Economics, Adam Sacks, predicts “the market to begin to regain its footing this summer.”
STR and Tourism Economics expect that U.S. hotel RevPAR will increase 63.1 percent in 2021, with occupancy increasing 57.3 percent to 59.7 percent and supply and demand increasing by 15.6 percent and 81.8 percent respectively.
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