Travel companies are poised for another surge in bookings after the US lifted the requirement for incoming travelers to test negative for Covid.
It is not yet clear how big the surge will be. But early evidence suggests that the lifting of testing requirements appears to have boosted international demand from both domestic and overseas outlets.
United said that in the first three days after the change was announced, international travel searches were up 7% from the previous week, with total searches exceeding 2.4 million.
Searches at origins in the US rose 7.6%, while searches for travel to the US from overseas rose 6.9%, according to United. Most US travelers were looking for trips this summer to Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe.
Similarly, Expedia reported that in the first two and a half days after the cancellation of the mandate on June 12, more than half of the international flight searches undertaken for U.S. origins were for travel within the next month and a half. The most popular search destinations included cities in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, as well as London, Paris, Rome and Toronto.
Expedia reported that US travel searches in the UK increased by more than 10% over the same period.
Delta said on June 15 that searches and bookings to international destinations had increased, but declined to provide details. Hopper, meanwhile, said bookings for international flights from the US increased by 8% on June 10 when the rule change was announced.
Tour operators see surge
Tour operators and river cruise operators said it is a little early to tell how much business will come from the policy easing. But some vendors have said they’ve already noticed a difference.
“Before the announcement, we started seeing a slight spike in orders and the business has grown steadily since then,” said Stephanie Schmudde, vice president of product development and operations at Abercrombie & Kent. “We continue to receive many questions from travel consultants and their clients, but the fear of traveling abroad and not being able to return home has certainly lessened since the recent announcement.”
Melissa Da Silva, president of TTC Tour Brands, the tour operating arm of Travel Corporation, said the company is “confident” that it will see a surge in interest in the coming days and weeks.
“We know that homecoming testing has been a hurdle and challenge for many travelers looking to book this international ticket,” she said. “We are ready to meet the demand.”
Jeff Roy, executive vice president of Collette, said the company expects another Covid-era booking trend to be heavily curtailed: last-minute cancellations due to testing and quarantine requirements.
At the Travel Leaders Edge conference in Aurora, Colorado this week, Travel Leaders Group President John Lovell said he expects European travel to “really pick up” as…