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By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, March 4 (Reuters) – U.S. travel demand remains low even as tens of millions of Americans get vaccinated for COVID-19, with just 12% planning a spring break trip this year, the industry said on Thursday.
The industry has been devastated over the past year by the collapse in travel demand because of the pandemic. The U.S. Travel Association said polling that it commissioned suggested Americans remained wary about travel and that it was “far from clear when demand for travel will rebound on its own.”
The industry again urged new tax credits to encourage leisure and business travel.
“We really can’t recover until we get this pandemic under control,” said U.S. Travel Association Chief Executive Roger Dow, who added that corporate travel departments were still advising employees not to travel.
The travel industry has also been hit by restrictions that have barred millions of international travelers from coming to the United States for non-essential trips from Europe, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still discouraging Americans from any non-essential travel. The group urges the U.S. government to set a target date for seeking to resume international travel, which remains down nearly 80%.
In early 2020, the U.S. travel industry employed 16.9 million people, which fell to 8.7 million in April 2020. It rebounded to 13 million jobs as of January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Hotels, airlines, restaurants, convention centers and other travel destinations are still hurting and major events remain virtual. Many travel destinations remain closed like Disneyland, while others like professional sporting events have limited fans.
The industry said the number planning to travel for spring break fell from 16% in a poll a week earlier.
The group believes travel demand will see a significant rebound by Memorial Day on May 31. President Joe Biden said this week the United States would have enough COVID-19 vaccine for every American adult by the end of May.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Peter Cooney)