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Revenge Travel Rages in 2021

June 23, 2021

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What’s revenge tourism? It sounds kind of nasty but it’s really very nice. Let’s look at how this tourism trend is shaping today’s travel.

The term "revenge travel" came into being during the height of the coronavirus lockdowns and it speaks to the travel resurgence that will inevitably happen once vaccines make travel safer. Folks will take those vacations that got canceled and reclaim a sense of normalcy by getting out and seeing some of the world again.

Data Shows People Are On the Move

Some key travel indicators demonstrate that people are once again traveling, and looking to do more as we roll through summer and fall. Google searches for "Google Flights" recently hit 100 out of 100 on the popularity score, up from 56 at the start of 2021. TSA checkpoints are seeing over a million screenings each day. While numbers haven't yet reached the pre-pandemic norm of up to 2.5 million daily, it's a massive surge compared to COVID lows that were under 100,000.

Vacation rentals are rising, with sites like VRBO and Airbnb seeing a dramatic increase in bookings and thus a rise in their stock prices: Airbnb is up 20% this year. Expedia saw a recent stock increase of 30%. Hotels are seeing similar booms with Marriott and Hilton each enjoying about 10% gains in their stocks.

Travel to Europe is Back...With Some Strings

While Europe is once again welcoming tourists, they have quite a few varying conditions for travel to EU countries: each country within the EU makes its own border rules over who gets admitted and whether or not COVID tests or full vaccinations are required. Plus, nationality plays a part—countries with higher COVID rates will face more restrictions than those with lower rates. In some cases, mandatory quarantines will be required.

Still, we're going to see revenge travel all across the continent as Europe makes strides to once again welcome visitors. One big sign is that the most-visited theme park in Europe is up and running; Disneyland Paris recently opened its doors after a shutdown of almost eight months. With widespread vaccinations, we should expect Europe to remain open to travelers going forward despite any coronavirus variants or spikes. Especially since there's huge money involved. Europe saw more than 36 million travelers from the U.S. alone in 2019. In 2020, that number was just 6.6 million.

Vegas is Rolling Again

One of America's most-visited destinations, Las Vegas has been a hotbed of revived tourism lately. The town has been seeing a travel surge with over two million visitors per month and climbing, with hotel occupancy increasing steadily month by month. With COVID restrictions lifted, casino capacity is back to 100% and the influx of tourists who are looking to get back into gambling shows no sign of slowing.

Sin City Competes With Mother Nature

While Las Vegas has emerged as a hotbed of tourism as coronavirus restrictions fade, much of the revenge tourism we're seeing still takes COVID into consideration. That means people are doing more outdoor travel and taking trips to coastal areas where social distancing is more possible.

U.S. News and World Report did a deep dive into travel data, looking at over 1,100 destinations and scoring them in ten different categories such as sights, culture, and food. Every destination in their Top 5 Best Places to Visit in the USA centers on outdoor activity. They are:

1. Grand Canyon. Monthly visitors to the majestic site, which fell to zero in April 2020, are surging. Nearly half a million people visited the Grand Canyon in April 2021. As the Colorado River snakes its way through 277 miles of canyon, there's plenty of room to spread out.

2. Yosemite National Park. Yosemite will restrict the number of visitors until early fall, and there's a huge demand to visit the California nature escape that's home to landmark spots like Glacier Point and Half Dome. The national park also has one of the world's tallest waterfalls, Yosemite Falls, among its many cascades.

3. Yellowstone National Park. Unlike Yosemite, Yellowstone doesn't restrict its number of visitors. But if you haven't already booked your trip, you may not find a place to stay. According to the Park Service, camping sites and nearby lodging are all booked up for the immediate future.

4. Maui. Prepare to find a packed airport if you travel to Maui, which has recently seen about 8,000 travelers coming in each day. And you don't need negative COVID tests to go island hopping after you arrive. But lots of visitors stick to the island of Maui, home to world-famous beaches like the black sands at Waianapanapa State Park.

5. Glacier National Park. Welcoming with over 700 lakes and two mountain ranges, Montana's Glacier National Park is another outdoor spot that's perfect for a socially distanced vacation. And tickets to its famed Going-to-the-Sun Road have recently seen a surge in sales.

Maybe you don’t consider visiting the best travel destinations as “revenge.” But it can be a good way to think about that feeling of satisfaction that COVID won’t stop us from getting out there and experiencing the world.

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.

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