July 7, 2020 / 5:17 PM / a month ago

Travelers are venturing out again but avoiding planes, international trips, survey shows

(Reuters) - Travelers are hitting the road again and taking vacations even as the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of abating in many countries, a survey on Tuesday showed.

About 51% of people in North America and Latin America plan to book trips in the next six months, compared with 38% in Asia and Europe, according to the survey by software maker Oracle Corp.

However, travelers want to stay close to home, preferring to drive and to avoid international trips.

Due to travel restrictions and lengthy lockdowns in many countries to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, tens of thousands of hotels have closed and occupancy levels have fallen below 20% for weeks, said Alex Alt, general manager of Oracle Hospitality.

“One thing that’s refreshing is that consumers want to travel,” he told Reuters. “There is a resilience and an appetite to be on the road, to explore, to experience.”

With U.S. coastal towns a favorite destination, occupancy among 600 U.S. hotels that Oracle tracks has risen for five straight weeks and recently hit its highest levels since mid-March.

“I’d say the industry largely expects it to continue through the summer months,” Alt said. “The key will be for the business travel to come back to complement that leisure travel.” 

FILE PHOTO: Children watch the sun set as they inspect tide pools during low tide in Solana Beach, California, U.S., January 4, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

COVID-19 cases have surged around the United States and the death toll has topped 130,000, prompting the European Union last week to exclude Americans travelers for its “safe” travel list.

To assuage concerns about infections, 90% of hotels have increased or planned to increase cleaning and disinfecting. In addition, 70% of hotels already are or are planning to adopt contactless technology for check-in, food ordering and concierge services, according to the survey.

Oracle surveyed 4,600 consumers and 1,800 hotel executives in the United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore and Australia in mid-April through early May.

Reporting by Jane Ross in Los Angeles; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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