According to experts, new US tour operators could bring more tourism to destinations like Las Vegas.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their travel guidelines on Friday, saying that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can travel as long as they continue to wear masks and social distancing. The agency had previously asked all Americans to avoid unnecessary air travel.
“This definitely helps, at least domestically, to open up travel a little more and should be good for the destination,” said game advisor Brendan Bussmann of Global Market Advisors.
For people who have not been fully vaccinated, the CDC sticks to its recommendation to avoid unnecessary travel. If they travel, the agency says they should be tested one to three days before the trip and three to five days afterwards. People should stay home and quarantined for seven days after the trip, even if their COVID-19 test is negative, the agency said.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky cautioned however, saying she would continue to “oppose general travel altogether” given the rising number of infections.
“If you are vaccinated, the risk is lower,” she said.
Impact on Sin City
The agency’s loosened management comes from the need to catch up and vaccines to stimulate pedestrian traffic in Las Vegas. According to the CDC on Friday, approximately 22.4 percent of the American adult population is fully vaccinated.
“There is definitely an increased desire to be on the road,” said Bussmann. “Some people will still hesitate to be in large groups … (but) things are starting to move in the right direction and obviously vaccinations help in that endeavor.”
Bussmann and other experts say the new guidelines should be a boon for domestic travel this summer.
“Expect record crowds to travel across the country this summer,” Scott Mayerowitz, editor-in-chief of The Points Guy, said in a statement Friday. “Many families saved extra money during the pandemic and are willing to spend it.”
Mayerowitz added that domestic destinations should be “even more crowded than usual” as most of Europe is still closed to Americans.
Roger Dow, President and CEO of the US Travel Association, said the new tour operator is an “important step in the right direction” for the travel industry and should create more jobs in the industry. According to the group, travel-assisted jobs accounted for around 65 percent of all U.S. jobs lost in the past year.
“The travel industry’s mantra during the pandemic should be science-based, which clearly shows that now is the right time to take this step,” Dow said in a statement Friday.
A long road to recovery
The travel industry still faces hurdles on its way to recovery.
For one thing, air traffic remains well below pre-pandemic levels. McCarran International Airport recorded 1.6 million passengers in February, 58 percent fewer than in the same month last year.
“One of the biggest challenges we are still facing is to get enough momentum on the market,” said Bussmann. “(This would) attract tourists – and hopefully congressmen – to return to the destination.”
Experts believe that international travel will take longer to recover. Bussmann said more countries will need to reopen their borders before Las Vegas can see a significant return of international visitors.
“I think we really have to wait for the International,” he said. “Hopefully we will see signs when we go into summer.”
Contact Bailey Schulz at [email protected] Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.