SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – It’s being dubbed the summer of “revenge travel.” After more than a year of being locked down, cancelling trips, and spending more time at home than ever before, Americans are ready to take a vacation.
“I haven’t stopped traveling, you know why? Because I’m playing by the rules, I’m behaving responsibly and I’m being situationally aware,” said Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor for CBS News.READ MORE: Animal Rights Group Sues Park Service Over Dying Elk At Point Reyes National Seashore
Greenberg said international travel is taking off, trips to Greece are up 12% from pre-pandemic levels. Iceland, Ireland, and Mexico are also seeing more visitors.
Domestically, small outdoor spots like Eureka, Merced, Bend, Oregon, Traverse City, Michigan and Bozeman, Montana are considered hot spots, but there’s still a lot of confusion over regulations.
Many countries are requiring people to have what’s known as a vaccine passport.
Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Israel, Japan, Panama, Singapore, and Thailand all require their own citizens to provide proof of vaccination. Hawaii is asking visitors to download the Common Pass, but the U.S. government is currently staying away from requiring people to have proof of a vaccine to travel.
Microsoft and Mayo Clinic made an app that verifies vaccination records. Experts advise starting a folder of vaccine passes on your phone, similar to what you may already have for airline travel.
Greenberg said you should expect most private businesses will embrace this model.
“It will not be the trickle-down theory here, we’re going to see the tumbledown theory. You may not be able to go to the dry cleaner pretty soon without showing proof of vaccination,” Greenberg said.
Rental cars are also few and far between, most companies sold off their fleets during the pandemic.
“You can’t get a rental car now. I priced a rental car today for a one-day rental in Florida for a small Kia, and that rental was $441 a day,” Greenberg said.READ MORE: Mayor Breed Vetoes Bill Providing Free Muni Service, Citing Cost Concerns
“During the height of the pandemic, if a hotel was even open, their occupancy could be in the single-digits,” said Kevin Carroll, the Executive Director of the Hotel Council of San Francisco.
Carroll said hotels are starting to fill up again, occupancy on weekends is near 60%. Most are Californians driving in for the weekend.
“It continues to expand so Southern California, we’re now seeing Arizona, Texas,” Markus Treppenhauer, General Manager of The Fairmont in San Francisco said.
The Fairmont reopened in February. Currently, 75% of San Francisco hotels are back open.
Treppenhauer said tourists help, but the long-term recovery depends on large group travel.
“We need those customers. Transient travel, what we have today, is not enough to sustain us in the future,” Treppenhauer said.
The expectation is that the recovery will go in waves, first it will be local travelers, then international, business travel, and finally conventions.
“I’m hoping in the next two years we can be back to normal,” Treppenhauer said.
“A full recovery is not expected for three to four years, so it could be in well into 2023,” Carroll said.
In the meantime, hotels are ready to welcome visitors, and the next few months of tourism are an essential and defining time in the trajectory of the recovery.MORE NEWS: Most U.S Metro Areas More Segregated Than Decades Ago; Interactive Map Illustrates Divide
“It’s critical and going into the summer months, which are traditionally a busy time for us as well, we’re primed and ready and we just, we want to welcome people back to our city,” Carroll said.