In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are booking local travel.
According to Airbnb Inc. Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky, the number of travel nights booked at US listings between May 17th and June 3rd was greater than the same weeks from the previous year, Bloomberg notes.
Similar increases in travel for domestic holidays are also being seen in other countries including Germany, Portugal, South Korea, and New Zealand.
“People, after having been stuck in their homes for a few months, do want to get out of their houses; that’s really, really clear,” Airbnb Inc. Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky said in an interview. “But they don’t necessarily want to get on an airplane and are not yet comfortable leaving their countries.”
This is a bit of good news for the travel industry that’s been squeezed by health and travel restrictions, social distancing rules, and a broader economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, at the beginning of May, Airbnb laid off 25 percent of its staff as business slowed.
While things are certainly not back to normal, this data does suggest that, instead of disappearing entirely, vacations and travel have rather shifted from being taken by way of an airplane to by way of the car.
Now trips are being taken from around 200 miles of a customer’s location, Bloomberg notes, adding that this distance is short enough to travel on a single tank of gas.
A shift in people’s vacation preferences shows that short international trips are being replaced with longer in-country stays in vacation homes.
Why might this shift be so sudden and significant? The increase in remote working means some people can work from anywhere, making more space for flexibility in changing environments.
Is the new trend in Airbnb here to stay? That’s a bit unclear. As multiple states in the US have started to ease lockdown restrictions and regulations, it could be possible that this spike is temporary.
However, health experts predict that a COVID-19 vaccine won’t be developed until the middle of 2021, which could mean that this short-term trend has the potential to become a long-term trend.