Published on May 3, 2020 in General
In case you missed it, please be sure to check out part 1
Many eyes have turned to Georgia, Texas, and Florida to examine what effect the lifting of stay at home orders might have on travel in those regions of the country. The impact of the decision to partially lift stay at home restrictions almost certainly impacted local businesses across each state, but what is not as clear is the actual effect on drive market activity when compared to states that have chosen to keep orders in place.
DTI index for Georgia residents across all mileage bands indeed saw a 26% increase week over week between Saturday, April 18th, and Saturday, April 25th.
However, when compared to the 22% increase observed in California’s week over week DTI index for the same two dates or New York’s heightened activity illustrated above, the impact of stay at home orders to drive market travel seems less clear. Georgia had a more significant day of week change between Friday, April 10th, and Friday, April 17th—a nearly 40% increase in drive market activity—than it did during this past week. By comparison, California’s drive market index rose by a more moderate 19.35% between the same two Fridays (April 10th and April 17th). Importantly, Georgia has maintained higher (but still quite low) average DTI index values throughout the pandemic crisis when compared to states like California and New York.
In Texas, the phased reopening of businesses and state parks had an amplifying effect on an increase in trip activity that began earlier in the month, on the weekend of April 10th. On the first weekend in which state parks and other businesses had limited openings, travel activity spiked over 46% Friday over Friday (April 17th vs. April 24th) for trips between 50 and 100 miles.
Trip activity in the critical 100-250-mile range (where day trips are more likely to turn into overnight stays) saw an even more significant increase, 58% Friday over Friday, with indexed volume just 12% below the baseline on Friday. April 24th.
Several hundred miles east of Texas, in the state of Florida, the reopening of public beaches near Jacksonville caused widespread concern that overcrowding and non-local visitors could lead to a spike in new COVID-19 cases in the local community. While it has not yet been determined if the reopening of public beaches will or will not lead to a resurgence of the virus, location data for public beaches within Duval County revealed that 88% of all visitation to the beach originated from within Florida, with the bulk of beachgoers originating from within the Jacksonville metro area. For Florida as a whole, drive market activity by Florida residents, perhaps surprisingly, remained relatively flat between across the last two weekends of April.
This flat curve of trip activity in a state where restrictions are amongst the earliest to begin lifting muddies the water in drawing a direct correlation between stay at home orders and a subsequent rise in drive market activity. It is worth noting that the status of large attractions around the state likely played a role in the decision of Floridians to stay closer to home, with large in-state draws including theme parks remaining closed during this time period.
In Part 3, we will bring all this information home and discuss our hypothesis on what this data potentially means—and what factors travel marketers will want to consider as they plan for the coming recovery.
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