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Travel demand is picking up, but Americans wary of some regions

Travel industry hopes to rebound
Travel industry hopes to rebound 09:11

Americans are itching to travel again after more than a year of COVID-19 and pandemic lockdowns, according to Booking.com CEO Glenn Fogel. But travel to Europe and other regions may take longer to pick up given murky coronavirus protocols and ongoing restrictions against visiting some countries, he added. 

"It's very confusing right now — different countries have different rules," Fogel told CBSN. "It's a bit of a mess."

For instance, the European Union has said it wants to welcome back American travelers this summer, but the timing and the regulations for trips remain unclear, which makes it difficult to plan and book vacations, Fogel said. Travelers also may be wary of going to certain countries for fear of getting stuck there, such as in the case of some Australians visiting India who weren't allowed to return home due to the subcontinent's severe COVID-19 outbreak

Because many U.S. consumers have money to spend, bolstered by three rounds of federal stimulus checks, they are opening their wallets for travel after being cooped up for a year. Spending on hotels and flights has "improved sharply over the last two months," Goldman Sachs analysts noted in a report this week.

About 1.6 million people went through TSA checkpoints for the week ended May 6, the most since the pandemic crippled the economy in March 2020. While that number is rising, it's still a far cry from pre-pandemic numbers — about 2.6 million travelers passed through TSA checkpoints during the same week in 2019.

EU to reopen borders to vaccinated Americans 05:35

Americans are feeling more comfortable with travel because of the ongoing coronavirus vaccinations across the nation, Fogel told CBS MoneyWatch. He cautioned that because of renewed interest in travel within the U.S., consumers who are planning a summer trip shouldn't wait too long to make plans. 

"We see travel increasing tremendously for domestic travel," he said. "There can be some trouble getting availability" in some locations popular with tourists. 

While the travel industry is rebounding, it might not return to pre-pandemic levels until international travel resumes, Fogel told CBS MoneyWatch. 

"It's great it's coming back, but there's still a long way to go," he said. "International travel is critical for the health of the industry. Without international travel, we can't have a true recovery."

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