Pack Your Bags: Travel Industry Braces for Comeback

With COVID cases falling and vaccinations rising, prospects are for friendlier skies ahead in the battered travel industry. A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of Americans plan to take a trip this year, and travel agents are starting to see early signs of that optimism. "We're definitely at the very beginnings of a comeback," says Catherine Banks, vice president of Dallas-based Legacy Travel. "We recently broke a record for trip inquiries since pre-COVID, so it's definitely coming back...but it's not there yet."

There are growing signs of pent-up demand for travel. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is planning to hire 6,000 new security officers in anticipation of a summer travel surge. Banks expects the same thing. "We are tired of being at home, tired of 'stay-cations' or going somewhere an hour away," she tells KTRH. "It's time for a real trip, and everybody's feeling it."

"We anticipate later on this year it's going to be crazy," she continues. "We've already had strategy meetings where we discussed how we're going to deal with demand that we won't be able to handle."

Regardless of when or how big the comeback is, Banks also understands there will be long-term damage to the industry. While her business has survived, she realizes many other travel businesses have not, and others are still barely hanging on. "The results of the lockdowns and the travel embargoes and what not, are going to be far-reaching, and we're going to be feeling them, I think, for years," she says.

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