As COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise the United States, Americans have grown more wary about taking trips this year, according to ongoing tracking by the Harris Poll.
A bleak indicator for the summer travel season: Only one-third of Americans (33%) say they’ll stay in a hotel and barely a quarter (28%) will be ready to fly within three months of the COVID-19 curve flattening.
“It’s not surprising to me that people grew more concerned about travel because America has not yet crested the curve and they are largely following the shelter-in-place orders,” says John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll.
The data reflects that Americans are now taking the public health danger much more seriously than they did a few weeks ago. “In our latest Harris Poll wave from this past weekend, 56 percent of Americans fear they could die from coronavirus,” says Gerzema. That’s more than doubled from 27 percent on March 14.
Meanwhile, two thirds of Americans (68%) think the amount of fear is sensible given how serious the pandemic has become. “That’s a stark reversal from three weeks ago when 56 percent said the amount of fear is irrational and people were overreacting,” says Gerzema.
Since the Harris Poll began tracking changing sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have been mentally pushing out the time frame for how long it will take for them to travel.
One in six Americans (15%) say they will stay in a hotel within a month of the curve flattening, which is down 6 percent in two weeks. Add another 18 percent (33% combined) who say they’ll stay in a hotel within three months. Extend that to six months out, and a slight majority (52%) of respondents say they’ll be ready to visit a hotel, down 8 percent in two weeks.
The numbers are similarly dismal for the airline industry, with only one in six (14%) Americans saying they’ll fly within a month after the government signals that COVID-19 is abating. Another 14 percent (28% combined) say they’ll fly within three months. Worryingly, less than half of Americans (42%) think they’ll be ready to fly at the six-month point.
The cruise industry will have the longest road to recovery. Only 8 percent of Americans say they’ll get on a cruise ship within a month of the curve flattening. By the six-month mark, less than a quarter (22%) of respondents will be ready to sail. Half of Americans (50%) say it will take a year or more before taking a cruise.
Still, it’s not all bad news. Gerzema points out that there are also signs of pent-up demand. Over a third of Americans (35%) say they have felt claustrophobic since the stay-at-home orders have gone into effect, with a 16-point spread between younger adults ages 18-49 (42%) and older adults ages 50+ (26%) who feel this way.
People are most likely to start with outings close to home. “In a new question we ask,” says Gerzema, “the three things Americans miss most are: dining out at restaurants and bars (51%), gathering with friends and family (49%) and shopping in stores (39%).”
To a large extent, how quickly Americans return to traveling will depend on the economy. In the latest Harris Poll, six out of 10 Americans (60%) said they are concerned they could lose their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is up 4 percent since last week.
Methodology: This survey was fielded online among a nationally representative sample of 1,993 U.S adults from April 3-5, 2020.
See the full article at Forbes.