On November 8, the United States will reopen its doors to fully vaccinated foreign travelers, a long-awaited milestone in the country’s recovery from COVID-19. The U.S. has historically been the world’s largest inbound travel market, and its opening is a big step in the global revival of cross-border travel.
As the reopening nears, the hospitality industry is gearing up for a much-needed surge in demand. Last year was the worst on record for American hotels, with only 44% reporting occupancy, according to Smith Travel Research.
However, even as borders open and occupancy increases, hotels will have to compete with alternatives like vacation-rental company Airbnb, which during the pandemic appealed to visitors looking for short-term rentals and rural retreats. In the third quarter of 2021, Airbnb recorded a 280% year-over-year profit growth and its highest-ever revenue, the company said in its earnings report yesterday.
Airbnb expects this growth to continue even as travel conditions normalize. In the week after the reopening was announced, the company says it saw a 44% increase in stays booked by foreign guests, with hosts in more than 4,000 destinations across the United States planning to welcome international travelers.
These travelers are coming mostly from five major cities: London; Paris; Santiago, Chile; Toronto; and Vancouver. And they will be staying predominantly in U.S. urban centers. The five most popular destinations are Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, and the South Florida Atlantic Coast.