After a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions, Marylanders are ready to get back to the beach.
More than 800,000 state residents are projected to travel over the Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic — an 89% return to pre-pandemic levels and a 62% recovery from last year’s holiday. More than 45% of Marylanders are fully vaccinated, and the state’s testing positivity rate has reached a new low.
“Optimism coinciding with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and growing consumer confidence are fueling a strong desire to travel this summer as the U.S. takes steps toward putting the pandemic behind us,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina C. Ali said in a statement.
The auto club, which represents more than a million Maryland drivers, commissioned a Public Policy Polling survey of 622 Marylanders, which found that 63% of respondents are considering or planning on taking a trip over the summer.
Of those surveyed, 29% said they planned to travel for a “quick getaway” and 25% are undecided but could make a last-minute decision to travel, AAA said. Another 24% are staying home, and 22% are planning a longer or more extravagant trip, known as “Revenge Travel.”
Nearly four in 10 of those surveyed said they still have COVID-related travel concerns, and two-thirds said they plan to travel only with those in their household or their established “bubble,” AAA said.
Twenty percent said they have a strong desire to travel after the pandemic restrictions of the past year, and 21% said their ability to be fully vaccinated is driving their travel plans. But 21% also said uncertainty about activities and attractions at their destinations is playing a factor in their planning.
“COVID-related safety is still a factor for many travelers, some of whom may be venturing out for the first time in over a year,” Ali said.
Ocean City, Maryland’s top beach destination, dropped its outdoor mask mandate on the Boardwalk and other public areas last month, keeping the resort town in line with the state’s regulations. Farther up the Eastern Shore, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware followed suit Friday, although only for fully vaccinated people, after that state updated its mask guidance.
While most people drive to the beach and other Memorial Day destinations, air travel is expected to rebound, too, after a year of near-empty airports.
Six times more Marylanders are expected to fly for this year’s Memorial Day weekend than last year’s, according to AAA. More than 56,400 Marylanders will travel by air, the auto club said.
Masks are required at all airports and in all aircraft, and all international travelers must have a negative test result or proof of recovery from COVID before boarding a flight to the U.S.
Fewer are taking trains, buses, cruises and other modes of transportation. But the 3,300 projected to travel by other modes is a 21% increase from last year, AAA said.
The survey, conducted April 23-24, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9%. The auto club’s travel projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. The Memorial Day holiday travel period includes trips Thursday through Monday.