Vacationers ‘Bust Out’ Even With Corporate Travelers Stuck Home

Leisure travelers are breaking free from their quarantines.

While hotels are struggling during the week, when business travelers would normally fill rooms, weekend stays at the beach are proving popular as antsy Americans emerge from lockdown.

That’s been the early pattern of the U.S. travel recovery, as easing social-distancing measures unleash pent-up demand at hotels in regional destinations.

Weekend occupancy rates topped 80% in Galveston, Texas, and Gulfport, Mississippi, during the week ending May 30, according to lodging data firm STR. Nationally, the occupancy rate was 37% for the same period.

While the American consumer is “ready to bust out,” according to Arne Sorenson, chief executive officer of Marriott Intentional Inc., business travel has been slow to rebound.

Sorenson said during a panel discussion on June 2 that corporations were “going to the most conservative place” when it comes to restarting business trips.

“That’s part of the conservative nature of big institutions,” he said.

Even as they remain wary of air travel, Americans appear willing to take road trips. The rebound in vacations has been a bright spot for an industry hammered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the nadir, U.S. hotel owners had shuttered thousands of properties and laid off or furloughed 70% of the industry workforce. Now, the industry is forging partnerships with medical experts and household cleaning brands in a bid to convince Americans that they can safely stay in hotels.

Industry analysts are predicting that a full recovery will take years, and urban markets that depend on business travel and large conventions face greater challenges.

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