The U.S. Travel Association has called the current moment the “Great Travel Depression,” in light of the economic effects resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Research by Tourism Economics, published by the association, backs up the framing, especially in comparison to other catastrophic events in U.S. history.
In the year following 9/11 travel spending declined by $57 billion. This year, travel spending is expected to decline by $519 billion – nearly 9 times the loss following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Through the end of April, 38 percent of all unemployed workers were within the travel industry, according to U.S. Travel. And from the start of the pandemic to May 19, more than half of the country's 15.8 million travel-related jobs were lost.
As stated on U.S. Travel’s website, “while the economy is in the midst of a recession, the travel industry is in a depression.”
As the country slowly begins to reopen, state by state, the “Great Travel Depression” should ease, though experts say it must be done safely. Guidelines have been created in preparation for what comes next, including “Travel in the New Normal” by U.S. Travel Association, and the “Stay Safe” initiative by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA). Adhering to guidelines laid out by such groups, as well as state and national orders, should ensure maximum safety while the economy opens once again.