States with the biggest drop in travel spending during COVID | Lifestyles


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For the first two years of the pandemic, the shifting landscape around COVID-19 affected travel more than almost any sector of the economy. Concerns about the spread of the virus and changes in travel restrictions and public health guidance led many would-be travelers to hold off on trips. As a result, industries like air travel and lodging saw much lower than usual demand throughout 2020 and 2021, and closely related businesses like restaurants and arts, entertainment, and recreation facilities also suffered. But according to recent data from the U.S. Travel Association, many indicators like hotel room demand and overall travel spending are at or near pre-pandemic levels.

A recovery in travel spending would be welcome news given the dramatic drop brought on by COVID-19. The onset of the pandemic in 2020 sharply reversed an upward trend in travel spending over more than two decades. From 1997 to 2019, annual per capita travel spending—defined as the summation of air transportation and accommodations spending—increased from $504 to $856 in inflation-adjusted dollars. Over that span, spending only declined in the two years following the September 11 attacks, which produced a decline in air travel, and from 2008 to 2009 with the onset of the Great Recession. But from 2019 to 2020, the pandemic set off a historic drop of almost 55% in travel spending, to just $388 per capita.


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