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WSU survey shows Americans unsure about travel, staying at hotels

A man wearing a mask walks past closed businesses.
A tourist wearing a mask on an empty street during the COVID-19 lockdown.

As states use a phased approach to reopen after widespread shutdown orders due to COVID‑19, many Americans still are unsure about returning to normal so soon—especially when it comes to the hospitality industry.

Dogan Gursoy, Taco Bell Distinguished Professor in the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University, found 65% of American consumers are not willing to dine in at a restaurant as soon as the restrictions are lifted, according to a survey conducted the first week of May.

“They’re not sure it’ll be safe enough,” Gursoy said. “People want to hold off for a while and see what is going to happen.”

More than half of respondents said they will wait at least three months or longer before traveling and staying at hotels again, and the majority preferred to take scenic road trips or visit beaches and lakesides when they do feel comfortable.

Closeup of Dogan Gursoy
Dogan Gursoy

“Depending on if a vaccine is developed and if people feel safer with the vaccine, there will be a big change in the industry,” Gursoy said. “I think we will see more businesses adopting technology that minimizes physical contact and lowers operating costs.”

The study surveyed 785 consumers nationwide, and Gursoy and his team plan to conduct a new survey every few weeks to keep track of changing viewpoints.

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