NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Today kicks off the first big travel day of the Christmas holiday, and despite warnings from health leaders, AAA reports that as many as 84 million Americans may still travel between today and January 3.
That’s actually 34 million fewer than last year’s holiday season.
“The data told us an interesting story,” said Cree Lawson, founder and CEO of travel data company Arrivalist. “Other predictions had shown that travel would be down 5 or 10 percent — we saw a 35 percent drop.”
That’s from Thanksgiving last year compared to this year. In Tennessee, the numbers were even more surprising.
“Tennessee is really interesting to watch. As we entered into this period, Tennesseans were our most solid road trippers,” Lawson said. “They continued to travel in the safety of their cars around the state up until Thanksgiving.”
In Tennessee, we did see a slight increase in travel over Thanksgiving, but it was less than expected.
“What changed over Thanksgiving is Americans heeded federal guidance to stay at home on a nationwide level,” Lawson said.
It was a different story for people who booked flights.
“We were challenged on this data. How can road trips be down 35 percent when flights are up 6 percent?” Lawson said. “There’s one really fundamental answer. It’s a lot easier to cancel a road trip then to get a refund for a flight.”
Researchers say it could take until at least July for the travel industry get back on the road to recovery.
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