HUNTINGTON — Nearly every summer, Brian Jones and his family take a summer vacation trip to Myrtle Beach around the Fourth of July holiday, but not this year.
“With all the reports of people getting COVID-19 after going to Myrtle Beach we decided to cancel our normal summer vacation plans for now,” said Jones, 45, of Huntington. “Maybe we can go later this year if things get better.”
West Virginia has recorded 100 cases of COVID-19 tied to people traveling to Myrtle Beach, according to West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.
In his COVID-19 briefing Friday, Justice said the state is aware of outbreaks in 18 counties that are tied to people traveling to the area.
AAA recently issued its summer travel forecast and predicts a nearly 15% drop in travel compared to last July through September. This is the first forecasted decline since 2009.
AAA says Americans will take approximately 707 million trips based on economic indicators and state re-openings. That number is the first decline in summer travel since 2009.
“Americans have spent the last few months dreaming about their summer vacations,” said Bevi Powell, senior vice president of AAA East Central. “As Americans return to making travel plans, they are doing so cautiously and more spur-of-the-moment.”
Powell said there have been some changes in booking trends this year.
“Travelers are booking long-weekend getaways and impromptu trips, with many loading their cars and heading to their favorite sunny destination or national park,” she said.
AAA says car trips will account for 97% of the favored mode of transportation and are expected to see the smallest decrease in travel volume, approximately 3% year-over-year.
Meanwhile, air travel is expected to decrease by about 74%, while rail, cruise ship and bus travel will slide by 86%, according to AAA.
AAA says the good news is that hotel and rental car bookings have been gradually increasing since April. Also, the share of travelers making plans 48 hours to seven days before departure is significantly higher than normal.