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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Multiple indicators now show how pent-up travel demand is playing out, as the U.S. exits lockdown mode.

Why it matters: Close to half of all Americans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, enabling a growing economic recovery in the hard-hit travel and leisure sectors.

  • More than half of the 8 million jobs lost in leisure and hospitality in March and April last year have come back, with 331,000 jobs added in April this year alone. 

By the numbers: April bookings were up 11% compared with April 2019, according to data provided exclusively to Axios from American Express Travel.

  • Based on last month's figures, the vast majority of people are staying domestic — 87% — a trend consistent across age groups.
  • But 39% plan to travel internationally within the year. 
  • New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Chicago, Charlotte, Denver, San Francisco and Phoenix are the top 10 U.S. destinations.
  • Sydney, Melbourne, London, Dubai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and Paris top the list of international destinations.

The big picture: Pent-up demand for services is on the rise, and nearing the level of demand for goods.

  • Flight bookings grew 11% in March, inching closer to e-commerce spending, according to Adobe Analytics.
  • Flight bookings for this year's December holiday season were up 17% as of March, versus March 2019. Thanksgiving bookings are 9% higher, per Adobe.
  • But the more lucrative business travel segment may never fully recover, Booking.com CEO Glenn Fogel told Axios earlier this year.

What to watch: As leisure returns, concerns about worker shortages (and the cause) grow.

  • There were a record number of open jobs in the U.S. in March — with the highest postings for restaurant, bar, hotel, manufacturing, construction and retail positions.

Go deeper

Aug 20, 2021 - Health

America's patchwork back-to-school plan

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Conflicting policies, fiery political debates and the continued spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 are sowing chaos and uncertainty into the back-to-school season.

Why it matters: This will be the third school year in a row with COVID-related disruptions. Many students have already suffered severe learning loss, and the gap between students could grow even wider, thanks to disparities in vaccinations and rising case counts.

Aug 20, 2021 - Health

CDC recommends COVID-19 high-risk groups avoid cruise ships

Royal Caribbean cruise ship is seen on the Hudson River in New York City. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday said that travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness from the coronavirus should avoid traveling on cruises.

State of play: The CDC also said that individuals who are not fully vaccinated should avoid taking cruises. Additionally, unvaccinated passengers should self-quarantine for at least seven days after cruise travel, even if they test negative.

Aug 20, 2021 - Health

NYPD: Unvaccinated officers must wear masks or face discipline

Photo: Michael M. Santiago via Getty Images

Unvaccinated officers at the New York Police Department will be required to wear masks on duty or face disciplinary action, the department confirmed Friday.

Why it matters: Public and private entities are increasingly considering reinstating mask mandates amid a surge in Delta cases. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last month that all city employees, including law enforcement, must get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.