Even so, many of the prices are still below where they stood in the summer of 2019, six months before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic brought demand for travel to a near halt and sent prices plunging.
“Most of what people are seeing in price inflation is due to how cheap things were last year,” said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics.
Most in the industry avoid making the year-over-year comparisons in the CPI. Instead they’re looking at the contrast with the 2019 price and booking levels.
But even some of those prices are back to near or even above 2019 levels, thanks to the strong rebound in demand. For example, STR shows the national average for US hotel rates in the week ending June 26 back to 99.5% of where they were at the same time in 2019.
“That’s an incredible run,” said Sacks. Only two weeks ago they stood at 93% of 2019 levels, he added.
The national average disguises some even bigger increases in vacation destinations.
“The price differences are pretty disparate,” Sacks said. “The national prices don’t really mean anything when you’re looking to travel to a specific location at a specific time.”
He said that in locations where the travel and tourism industry depend on business travel, such as New York, Chicago and Washington, prices are still well below 2019 levels, since business travel has been much slower to return than leisure travel. That suggests fare increases for leisure travelers are likely even greater than the overall numbers show, he said
“If business travel was performing anywhere near what it was in normal times, we’d be seeing record performance,” said Sacks.
“You see pent-up demand to get back out on vacation pushing up travel, and prices,” said Vivek Pandya, senior digital insights manager at Adobe.
Hotels and air fares aren’t the only travel items that are more expensive.
Unlike the rental car companies, hotels and airlines have restored most of the capacity they shut down during the pandemic.