Help! How to Support Local Communities in Your Travels


I know that Europe will soon open to fully vaccinated Americans, but are there any cities or communities in the United States that are encouraging vaccinated people to visit? I would like to travel again, but I’m not ready for a long flight. And I’d also like to support domestic tourism-reliant communities — especially those encouraging vaccinations. Hetal

In a May survey of 1,200 U.S. adults from the tourism market research firm Destination Analysts, nearly 59 percent of respondents said they were unlikely to travel outside the country until the pandemic is resolved. That’s a big difference from a year ago — when that figure was around 75 percent — but the data suggests the vast majority of trips this summer will be domestic.

As for the key question — Where to, first? — there are plenty of tourism-reliant domestic destinations that are encouraging visitation and vaccines in ways large and small.

Los Angeles, which drew 43 million domestic visitors in 2019 and is projecting 35 million this year — and where more than half of residents ages 16 and over are fully vaccinated — has a slew of new initiatives to jump-start tourism. As part of its new #StartYourComeback campaign, Los Angeles Tourism has assembled dozens of deals on hotels, spas and other local businesses, and partnered with CLEAR, the biometric technology most commonly seen at airports: Soon, attendees at local events and large meetings may be screened upon entry by CLEAR’s Health Pass, which can store Covid test results and vaccination records.

New York City, meanwhile, has made its vaccines available to any U.S. resident ages 12 and older — locals and out-of-towners alike. In May, the city announced an initiative to administer Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine from mobile vaccination sites stationed around popular sites like Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History. A February 2021 report from NYC & Company, the city’s tourism promotion agency, and Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, estimates this year’s domestic-visitation numbers to be around 32 million (down from around 53 million in 2019), around 49 million next year and back to peak levels by 2023.

Ongoing vaccine incentives around the city range from free Shake Shack goodies to CitiBike memberships. In May, the New York Knicks offered free game tickets (Los Angeles is doing something similar with season tickets to the Kings and Galaxy) and New York State doled out free two-day passes to its state parks.

In New Orleans, which drew 19.75 million visitors in 2019 — a 6.7 percent increase from 2018 — one advertisement in the “Sleeves Up, NOLA” campaign includes an illustration of a vaccine vial paired with the words: “May Cause: Mardi Gras, Second Lines, Saints Games, Crawfish Boils, Festivals.” Around the city this spring, vaccination events in conjunction with bars and restaurants included “shots for shots” or piles of crawfish, and other local businesses have also offered promotions for anyone with a vaccination card.



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