Though the coronavirus vaccine rollout was slow early in the year, things have since progressed pretty rapidly-- so much so that in late March, President Biden boldly updated his goal of having 100 million vaccines administered within 100 days in office to 200 million vaccines.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been issuing guidance for the fully vaccinated. Last month, the agency said it's OK for fully vaccinated households to congregate indoors without masks. It also gave the green light for grandparents to hug their unvaccinated grandkids.
But the one thing the CDC was not eager to promote last month was travel. In fact, the agency expressly cautioned vaccinated adults against travel, which sent shockwaves through the airline and hospitality industries.
Now, however, the CDC is changing its tune. On April 2, it updated its guidelines to state that travel within the U.S. is a low-risk endeavor for fully vaccinated individuals, provided precautions like mask-wearing are taken. Not only that, but fully vaccinated folks can travel domestically without having to get tested for COVID-19 beforehand. They can also travel without having to self-quarantine at their destinations.
This is all encouraging news for those itching to travel. But it's also excellent news for the hotel industry, which has grown desperate for revenue in the course of the pandemic.
A lifeline for hotels
In 2020, hotel occupancy sat at just 44% -- the lowest level on record. This year, hotels need to stage a major recovery, and the CDC's latest announcement could help them do just that.
Now that Americans are being given the go-ahead to travel, hotel bookings could soar, especially in light of the fact that so many people are still working remotely and have the option to pick up and do their jobs from any part of the country.
Incidentally, this news could be a boon to vacation property owners, too. Though fully vaccinated adults may be comfortable enough getting on a plane, some may prefer the privacy of a home they can rent out in full. Also, a lot of families have been separated throughout the pandemic, so many travelers might choose to book a vacation home over a hotel for reunion purposes.
But either way, hotels can benefit tremendously from this recent development, and while occupancy levels this year are unlikely to reach those pre-pandemic, especially with business travel largely being halted, they're apt to improve over 2020's numbers. That could, in turn, help hotels hang on and recover from the miserable year they just had.
Of course, the one wild card for hotels will be families with young children. While more adults are getting vaccinated, young children likely won't be eligible until late this year or early 2022 at the earliest. As such, some families might favor private rentals over hotels for near-term travel. But still, there's reason for hotel investors to be encouraged right about now, and as vaccine supplies increase, we could see a huge boom in hotel bookings as 2021 rolls along.