Delta variant derails rebound in travel industry as online bookings and flight prices plummet

Top line

The latest wave of Covid-19 has dashed hopes of a rapid recovery for the U.S. travel industry, according to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, with months of rebound in demand and prices for travel in planes lost in August as the pandemic continues to dampen appetite for travel.


In August, consumers spent $ 4 billion online on domestic flights within the United States, according to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, down 35% from the same month in 2019.

The figure also marks a 24% drop from July spending of $ 5.26 billion, which Adobe Digital Insights senior analyst Vivek Pandya says typically falls near August, and points out. how Covid-19 cases cancel out months of recovery for the industry.

Online spending in June ($ 6 billion) was only 5% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019 and July was the first month in 2021 that flight prices rebounded to 2019 levels after months of consistent earnings.

But prices fell again in August, falling 11% below pre-pandemic levels in 2019, according to Adobe.

This trend continued through the first ten days of September, according to Adobe, with flight prices 22% lower than 2019 levels and the $ 1.5 billion spent in early September being 39% lower than the same. period in 2019.

Large number

$ 38 billion. That’s the amount consumers spent on online domestic flight bookings between January and August of this year, according to Adobe. This is a decrease of 30% compared to the same period in 2019.

What to watch out for

Holiday-related bookings are also well below pre-pandemic levels, according to Adobe. At the end of August, Thanksgiving flight bookings were down 18% from the same time in 2019, when about a quarter of tickets had already been booked. The ten most popular destinations for those traveling in September and October, according to arrival sites, are: Key West, FL; Kailua-Kona, HI; Bozeman, MT; Kahului, HI; Honolulu; Lihue, HI; Orlando, Florida; Las Vegas; Palm Springs, California and Portland, ME.

Key context

The travel industry has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic. Vaccine rollout, declining cases and returning consumer confidence fueled months of steady recovery and by the summer the industry was on a bullish trajectory. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported record travel on vacations like Memorial Day and July 4, and hotel occupancy rates reaching their highest rates since 2019. The rapid spread of the delta variant has, however, hampered that progress, and polls suggest more than half of Americans will postpone or cancel trips to areas with major outbreaks. The industry was granted a reprieve on Monday after the White House announced plans to ease long-standing travel restrictions for foreign visitors. The United Nations estimates that the international tourism crash could end up costing the global economy more than $ 4 trillion in 2020 and 2021, far worse than forecast a year ago.

Further reading

Delta variant slows domestic air travel in US as demand, flight prices drop below pre-pandemic levels (Forbes)

Florida receives almost as many tourists as before pandemic, report says as Covid rises (Forbes)

Busiest travel destination of 2020 was Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida, according to hotel data (Forbes)

The Ultimate Guide to Covid-19 Travel Restrictions: Masks, Tests, Vaccination Warrants & More (Forbes)

United States to require foreign visitors to be fully vaccinated against Covid (Forbes)

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