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Friday, June 18, 2021

As restrictions begin to be lifted, summer travel becomes more possible

Employees of the travel industry discuss the greater possibility of summer travel

In anticipation of widespread vaccine eligibility and the lifting of most COVID-19 restrictions on June 15, more people in the U.S. are planning on traveling this year. 

Samantha Mott, the public information specialist for the Sacramento County Department of Airports, said that the Sacramento International Airport has noted an increase in passengers in the past few months.

The airport is now recording significantly more passengers—approximately 11,000 people per day—which is more than the airport has seen since the lockdown in March that limited travel nationwide. According to Mott, at this time last year, the airport faced a 95% decrease in the number of travelers.

Although it remains unclear if this increase will be sustained, Mott said she is encouraged by the progression of vaccine distribution and the larger number of fliers that the airport recorded during spring break season for many universities.

“We’re hoping that we will see passenger numbers increase through summer as families get more access to vaccines and more and more places are opening up and loosening restrictions on travel, particularly when you’re arriving to certain destinations,” Mott said. 

Though the number of passengers has increased, Mott emphasized that COVID-19 regulations will remain intact in order to ensure the safety of customers. 

“As far as protocols go for safety—for example, mask-wearing or social distancing—I don’t know that those will change through the summer, and I think those will be in place for some time,” Mott said.  

With growing demand for travel, Mott also stated that the airport has been able to offer increased destinations for travelers, such as flights to Mexico City and Cancún.

“Not only will we see all of our nonstops that we had pre-pandemic return, we have seen some additional new routes start for us,” Mott said.

Although there are some new destinations being offered, Mott also said that some destinations that have been temporarily removed, including any nonstop flights into Canada due to COVID-19 restrictions.

As flights become increasingly available, Mott said that requirements upon arrival vary destination to destination. As a result, she strongly encouraged travelers to thoroughly research before finalizing travel arrangements in order to comply with their destination’s safety expectations.

“Some states will have stricter rules than others. It’s going to be really important for folks to do really good research prior to booking flights and finding out what requirements are safety-wise and protocol-wise for whatever destination they are heading to,” Mott said.   

Jade Lee, a Hyatt Place UC Davis gallery host, mentioned that the hotel has also seen an increased number of travelers over the past few months. In the beginning of the year, she noted that the hotel’s occupancy was minimal. However, the number of guests has risen steadily over time. 

She said that this increase in guests could indicate that summer travel will be more accessible and popular this year. 

Already, this pattern has been seen nationwide with market reports documenting increased demand for flights and increased hotel prices, especially compared to 2020. 

With changing COVID-19 restrictions, Lee mentioned that the Hyatt Place UC Davis is slowly amending their safety policies and amenities. Previously, open seating and open breakfast were prohibited due to regulations, but now the hotel is reopening these options. 

“Right now, we are very COVID-19 safe,” Lee said. “We do make sure that we clean our lobby, our tables, our chairs, everything constantly throughout the day just because we do allow open seating, and we do have an open breakfast.”

The hotel has also eliminated daily housekeeping for hotel rooms and instead has made it available upon a guest’s request. 

Though there are slight changes to the hotel’s policies, Lee does not anticipate large amendments to their COVID-19 restrictions in the near future until the state of the pandemic radically improves. Lee also noted her uncertainty regarding whether guests will need to be vaccinated in the future. Despite changing restrictions, Lee remains optimistic about the possibility of summer travel. 

“I think it’s definitely going to increase from [here] just because COVID-19 is becoming a little bit better. At least that’s what it seems like,” Lee said. 
Written by: Farrah Ballou — features@theaggie.org

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