Can ‘staycations’ mitigate impact of pandemic, protests on DC travel industry?

Pandemic-related issues and disruptive protests are a discouraging combination for D.C.-area businesses, according to a local economist.

“This unrest has happened at the unfortunate timing of just when we’re starting to allow restaurants and retailers to open up a little bit more,” said Terry Clower, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University.

“It’s certainly going to have some impact. Hopefully, this unrest is going to calm down in the next few days. But certainly these first few days have been very disruptive,” Clower said.

Another impending challenge is the region entering typically busy summer vacation months before people are comfortable getting on planes or trains.

He said he hopes locally based “staycations,” which were embraced during the Great Recession, might help mitigate the full impact.

“I think that we could see a real uptick, particularly in regional transportation, in the sense of people driving,” Clower said while noting the popularity of driving vacations in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

“Maybe enough of that comes back that it helps sustain our businesses, because we’re losing ground to that short season that we have of really intense tourism.”

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