The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated travel. Nearly a year into the pandemic, travel numbers are still down by nearly 60% compared to the same time last year.
But where are those 40% of travelers still getting on planes heading? As travel has slowly recovered, some destinations are clearly more popular than others, data from Airlines for America shows. They're heading for warmth and sunlight, outdoors destinations, and countries with fewer travel restrictions.
No surprise there, right? But the data itself is interesting and telling.
Where Are People Traveling Today?
Here's a look at how travel within the states and U.S. territories has changed over the last year, as of January 2021.
- People simply aren't traveling to or from the Northeast U.S. states. That's likely due in part to a severe outbreak early in the pandemic and strict testing (or even quarantine) requirements in states like New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and even Washington, D.C. Read our full state-by-state guide to travel restrictions.
- Travel in and out of sunshine states like Florida and Arizona is down by just 50% or so. That's still massive, but nowhere near as bad as other states on this list.
- Meanwhile, travel to and from outdoor meccas like Montana and Wyoming has fallen by less than 40% in the last year.
- Despite reopening for travel with testing requirements in October, Hawaii travel numbers are still down by more than 76%. The state hopes allowing vaccinated travelers to bypass quarantine will boost travel starting this spring.
- Just look at the U.S. Virgin Islands, where travel is only down by 26.1%! Sunshine, beaches, and no need to get tested to return to the mainland have kept travel alive to this U.S. territory. Surprisingly, travel in and out of neighboring Puerto Rico is still down by 65%.
International travel, meanwhile, appears to be all about one thing: the beach.
- Mexico is the most popular international destination, and it isn't close. While visits in January were down by 42%, Mexico still saw more than three times as many foreign visitors as any other country, according to data gathered by Airlines for America. The pull of popular areas like Cancun and the ease of entry, with no testing requirements to get in, has made Mexico the undisputed king of international travel for Americans during the pandemic.
- People are also flocking to the Dominican Republic, where travel has only fallen by 28% in the last year – the least of any country. Like Mexico, there are no testing requirements to get in. And resorts like the Hyatt Ziva & Zilara Cap Cana in Punta Cana have stepped up to offer the tests required to get back to the U.S.
- Aside from some other hotspots in the Caribbean and Central America, visits to most countries have dropped by 85% or more.
While travel remains way, way down, hundreds of thousands of travelers are still hitting the skies every single day. This data paints an interesting picture of where they're heading – and where they're not.