Summer travelers choose closer, drivable destinations amid coronavirus pandemic

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Even during a pandemic, a warm Memorial Day for many families means a trip to the beach as Hoosiers slowly emerge from their homes.

“We’re seeing some bookings pick back up, people do want to meet, people want a return to normalcy,” said Patrick Tamm, president and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Tamm says this weekend was much better for business than they expected a month ago as the vast majority of the state reopens.

“We are seeing some uptick just this past week in hotel bookings,” Tamm said. “We’re really looking forward to that 4th of July weekend where we really believe we’ll see some better business.”

Even so, summer business won’t be the same as usual. For the first time in 20 years, AAA didn’t release a Memorial Day travel forecast. The CDC still recommends avoiding non-essential travel.

“This is normally the time of year when people are hitting the road on vacation, going to the zoo, going to the children’s museum, but I want to remind everyone that this is not a normal year,“ Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said on Friday.

According to a recent survey from the tourism research firm Longwoods International, 45% percent of U.S. travelers traveling in the next 6 months are cancelling plans and 26% are changing destinations to be in driving distance.

“A lot of people are really looking for those short trips,” Tamm said. “People don’t really realize what’s in their backyard.”

For most Americans, the coronavirus is changing summer travel plans. No matter where you go, it’s still important to follow all the guidelines to stay safe.

“We have to remain vigilant and continue to make informed decisions about where to go and what we do,” Dr. Box said. “That’s the best way to ensure that these numbers continue to trend downward and protect our most vulnerable Hoosiers.”

You can find a list of in-state trip ideas at visitindiana.com.

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