AAA: Traveler confidence rebounding in 2022 as COVID-19 cases drop

Passengers stand in line at the Air France ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, on February 28, 2022. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

The American Automobile Association reported the 2022 travel season is off to a much stronger start compared to a year ago as bookings have increased. 

The agency said a new quarterly survey showed that traveler confidence is on the rise. 

Sixty-three percent of Floridians reported feeling comfortable traveling now – a significant increase from 40% in early 2021, according to the agency. 

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Based on the responses, AAA cites the boost in travel confidence is due to the COVID-19 vaccine, belief that the risk of contracting the virus is the same wherever they go, people are more knowledgeable and less afraid about the virus, the implementation of enhanced safety measures and reports that COVID-19 cases and deaths are declining.

"While some of this is the excitement of getting back to traveling, there are those who have more money to spend after traveling less in recent years. Additionally, we’re beginning to see customers apply travel vouchers they may have received after postponing a previous trip, due to the pandemic," Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA, said in a news release

Haas said she is seeing renewed enthusiasm from people wanting to travel to the Caribbean and Europe. She also noticed an increased interest in people taking cruises. 

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"This will be the first full year of cruising since the pandemic began," Haas continued. "Last year, cruising began building back in the summer with most ships at reduced capacity."

Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line announced they were easing their mask mandates

Throughout the pandemic, the cruise industry struggled to stay afloat.

Last December, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned people not to go on cruises, regardless of their vaccination status, because of onboard outbreaks fueled by the omicron variant. The CDC said it had more than 90 cruise ships under investigation or observation as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks. The agency did not disclose the number of infections.

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However, AAA said there are still lingering concerns about COVID-19. Forty-one percent of respondents said it’s challenging to understand the COVID-related requirements for international travel. As a result, it’s affecting their willingness or ability to plan a trip.

"There’s that segment of people who really want to go, but are hesitant because they’re unclear about COVID requirements or stressed about encountering issues while traveling," Haas continued. 

The CDC recently outlined the new set of measures for communities where COVID-19 is easing its grip, with less of a focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals.

The new system greatly changes the look of the CDC’s risk map and puts more than 70% of the U.S. population in counties where the coronavirus is posing a low or medium threat to hospitals. Those are the people who can stop wearing masks, the agency said.

The new recommendations do not change the requirement to wear masks on public transportation and indoors in airports, train stations and bus stations. The CDC guidelines for other indoor spaces aren’t binding, meaning cities and institutions even in areas of low risk may set their own rules. And the agency says people with COVID-19 symptoms or who test positive shouldn’t stop wearing masks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.