AAA predicts largest travel decline on record for 2020 holidays

2020 ends 11 consecutive years of holiday travel growth


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The year-end holidays usually see a period of high demand for vacations and travel, but by now, we all know nothing is as usual in 2020.

The 2020 year-end holiday period will see the largest travel decline on record, ending a streak of 11 consecutive years of holiday travel growth. The 2020 travel volume will be the lowest since 2002.

The auto club group released its holiday forecast Tuesday, showing a massive drop in holiday travel, by 30% or 1.7 million people, in Florida. It’s not just in the Sunshine State. Nationwide 34 million fewer Americans will travel compared to the same time period in 2019 (84.5 million vs. 118.9 million travelers, respectively).

READ: Full travel summary here

Travel is down the most for the airline industry. AAA’s forecast estimates only 3 million will take a plan this holiday season. That’s a 59% drop from 2019′s 7 million airport passengers.

On the roads nationwide, 81 million will drive 50 miles or more. That’s 29% fewer people than in 2019 at 119.3 million.

However, the agency is warning travel numbers could be even lower than predicted. Based on mid-October travel forecast models, AAA expected up to 50 million people would travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, which would have been a decline of 10% from 2019.

While final Thanksgiving travel numbers are not yet available, AAA expects the decline to be closer to 15–20%.

“With COVID-19 cases steadily increasing this month, the expected continued rise will likely prompt some Americans to make last-minute decisions to not follow through with upcoming travel plans, which was the trend during the lead up to Thanksgiving.” AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said.

AAA Travel said the reason they expect the vast majority of Americans to stay home this year is due to public health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

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