The travel and leisure industries were eagerly placing their business hopes on a rebound of fortunes from growing levels of international summer travel, but the delta COVID-19 variant has hindered their plans, according to a US news outlet.
The Wall Street Journal conducted a series of interviews with a number of industry executives and found that the superspreading delta variant put an immense strain on travel and leisure.
In the US, shows are being canceled and many health officials have been considering the return of mask mandates. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have both cautioned government across the world to advise people to carry on wearing masks, especially as the delta variant begins to gain ground.
Due to this, consumers are beginning to reconsider their travel plans, the WSJ reported, with travel and leisure executives noticing a slight decline in business.
The leisure industry in the US has been preparing for an increase in travel bookings. Jobs in the leisure and hospitality sectors increased to 380,000 in the month of July alone. This accounted for 40 percent of the month’s gains in non-farm payrolls. However, the industry still has 1.7 million less jobs than it did in February 2020, as the sector recovers from the pandemic-induced losses, according to the WSJ.
Global travel industry data showed that bookings in July were at 68 percent of their pre-pandemic level in early 2020, accounting for its highest rate yet this year, travel management company TripActions stated, adding that bookings this week remained in line with the previous two weeks. The company also noted that the bookings cancellation rate was 23 percent this week, accounting for a 1 percent increase from last week.
“It’s people concerned about Delta,” chief executive officer of online travel agency Booking Holdings Inc. Glenn Fogel told the WSJ, adding that his company, like many others in the industry, saw a decline in bookings between June and July.
Executives in the industry have said that they will continue to function normally whilst keeping COVID-19 safety precautions in mind without needing to consider the more stringent COVID-related restrictions which were seen earlier in the pandemic.
“If they require live events to go back to 50 percent capacity, that doesn’t work economically,” chief executive officer of US-based concert organizer AEG Presents Jay Marciano said, adding that their “current thinking is, if we take these proactive measures and demonstrate we’ve taken reasonable safety measures, our events can go ahead as planned.”
The executives told the WSJ that they believed short term business prospects relied on more people getting vaccinated against the virus.
“Unfortunately, the road to full travel recovery remains bumpy until more of the world is vaccinated,” Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern told the news publication.
The spread of the superspreader variant affected the company’s business in July and could likely lead to more cancelations, added Kern.
The US is now averaging 100,000 new cases a day, up from an average of 11,000 infections a day in June, indicating that the delta variant is spreading rapidly across the country, the Associated Press reported on Sunday, with over 90 percent of the country’s latest cases being of the delta variant.