As lockdowns across the United States continue to ease, major tourist sites are starting to ramp up for the summer season. But is that optimism misplaced?
For the last two years, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has held the title of being the busiest in the United States.
Amid the global pandemic, traffic has slowed significantly and planes have been grounded.
But a recent tourism industry survey suggests traveler optimism is growing once again, with one in five Americans saying they plan to book a trip as soon as lockdowns are lifted.
Unlike other, more essential industries, the path back to full health for the tourism sector could take a much longer period of time.
By its very nature, tourism relies on social connectivity. And it is still uncertain what that future now looks like.
“The idea that this news, that people are dying from this disease being easily transmissible, that they are going to take a holiday which is all about having fun and joy and they are going to be able to have that fun and joy knowing that they are exposing themselves at a significant level, I just find hard to fathom from a behavioral economics standpoint," said Seth Green of Loyola University's Quinlan School of Business.
Daniel Thomas is the CEO of TimeZoneOne, a global communications company serving clients in the Chicago travel and tourism industry.
He says the public also has a level of responsibility as restaurants and hotels begin the process of reopening.
“I think you get one shot at this from a travel and tourism industry. So I think the operators and brands out there are going to be really cautious about getting it right once," Thomas said.
"And right when they reopen. I think that is really critical. If that is done, I think you are going to see consumers get out there and travel.”