FOX BUSINESS - As coronavirus lockdowns are phased out and summer inches closer, local landmarks may be getting a lot more attention from Americans who don't want to travel too far from home.
Tantalizing gas prices and fears caused by the virus could make the idea of a local staycation seem more attractive.
“People are going to be looking closer to home,” travel expert Jeanenne Tornatore told FOX Business. “They're going to be looking at these domestic destinations, and I think in particular people are going to be looking to those outdoor destinations, those wide-open spaces where they can more easily, more naturally social distance when they start traveling again.”
The demand for gas is steadily increasing as more states reopen, according to AAA. National pump prices for regular gas are hovering around $1.81 per gallon, and are expected to gradually increase.
Even so, qualms about flying could keep local landmarks, like national parks, that offer an outlet for people to practice social distancing safely, busy all summer. In fact, the JetBlue founder believes 2020 may even be “the year of the car.”
“It might be like the ‘50s again,” David Neeleman said in a recent interview with Thepointsguy.com. “See the USA in your Chevrolet.”
This may be very welcome news to America’s feeble economy, which shrank in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since the Great Recession as a result of strict measures to help stop the spread of the virus.
Last year, U.S. domestic travelers spent $972 billion in the U.S., representing 86 percent of total travel expenditures, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Food services, public and auto transportation were the top spending categories, followed by recreation and retail.
What’s more, domestic travel spending directly supported 7.9 million American jobs.
In April alone, U.S. employers shed a record 20.5 million jobs.
Before the nation can return to any form of "normal summer travel," consumers will need to be convinced that the virus has run its course.
“The consumer wants to hear a consistent story from government, from medical facilities and medical experts,” U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney. “If we all speak with the same credible, believable, fact-based voice, they will come back sooner.”