Gas Prices to Affect Summer Travel More Than COVID Concerns

Nichole S. Gehr

Roadtrip

WASHINGTON—More than two years into the pandemic, U.S. travelers report that gas prices and inflation will impact their summer travel decisions more than concerns about COVID-19, according to a new survey conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the summer travel season, a traditionally busy time for the hotel industry. And this year, nearly seven in ten U.S. adults (69 percent) report being likely to travel this summer, with 60% percent saying they are likely to take more vacations this year compared to 2020-2021.

New concerns about gas prices and inflation, however, are impacting U.S. travel plans in a variety of ways. Majorities say they are likely to take fewer leisure trips (57 percent) and shorter trips (54 percent) due to current gas prices, while 44 percent are likely to postpone trips, and 33 percent are likely to cancel with no plans to reschedule. Eighty-two percent say gas prices will have at least some impact on their travel destination(s).

The survey of 2,210 adults was conducted between May 18-22, 2022. Other key findings include:

  • Sixty-eight percent of U.S. travelers agree they have a greater appreciation for travel because of missed experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Fifty-seven percent are planning a family vacation this summer, a majority of which plan to stay in a hotel.
  • Forty-six percent are likely to travel overnight for a family event such as a wedding, birthday, anniversary, or family reunion.
  • Twenty-five percent are likely to travel for Memorial Day, 32 percent for 4th of July, and 27 percent for Labor Day.
  • Sixty percent say they are likely to take more vacations this year compared to 2020-2021.
  • Sixty percent are likely to attend more indoor gatherings.
  • Fifty-seven percent are likely to take longer vacations.
  • Fifty-six percent are likely to take trips to farther-away destinations.
  • Ninety percent say gas prices are a consideration in deciding whether to travel in the next three months (50 percent major consideration, 23 percent moderate consideration, 17 percent slight consideration, 10 percent not a consideration).
  • Eighty-two percent say gas prices will have at least some impact on their travel destination(s) (37 percent major impact, 29 percent moderate impact, 16 percent slight impact, 17 percent no impact).
  • Due to current gas prices, 57 percent are likely to take fewer leisure trips, 54 percent are likely to take shorter leisure trips, 44 percent are likely to postpone trips, and 33 percent are likely to cancel with no plans to reschedule.
  • Ninety percent say inflation is a consideration in deciding whether to travel in the next three months (39 percent major consideration, 31 percent moderate consideration, 20 percent slight consideration, 10 percent not a consideration).
  • Seventy-eight percent of U.S. travelers say that COVID-19 infection rates are a consideration in deciding whether to travel this summer (33 percent major consideration, 23 percent moderate consideration, 22 percent slight consideration, 22 percent not a consideration).

“The pandemic has instilled in most people a greater appreciation for travel, and that’s reflected in the plans Americans are making to get out and about this summer. But just as COVID’s negative impact on travel is starting to wane, a new set of challenges is emerging in the form of historic inflation and record-high gas prices. We will be keeping a close eye on these issues and urging Congress and the administration to do the same in order to help ensure they don’t negatively impact hotels’ continued pandemic recovery,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA.

AHLA recently relaunched its Hospitality is Working campaign with a focus on reigniting travel across the nation and highlighting hotels’ positive economic impact in cities across the country. With travel ramping back up, hotels have embarked on an unprecedented hiring spree to recruit hundreds of thousands of workers for more than 200 hotel career pathways.

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