Akron-Canton Airport expects extra vacationers in 2021
Traveling for most in the midst of a global pandemic has been going from the office, um, dining room, to the dining room, um, to the kitchen.
And the real adventure seekers in the Akron area have ventured to exotic locations like the World Fair in Fairlawn.
There is a glimmer of hope that the similarity of business and leisure travel will resume in the New Year.
The Christmas trip has been more robust than ever since the coronavirus hit Ohio with a vengeance in February.
Home orders and travel advice hold up most work and family trips for months.
It was so gloomy in April that the daily passenger count at Akron-Canton Airport was only 30 souls – a far cry from the roughly 2,000 who normally walked through the gates.
Things have improved a bit, but the number of passengers through October (the last available month) was 254,135 – a decrease of around 68% from last year.
There have been some other improvements over Thanksgiving, CAK spokeswoman Lisa Dalpiaz and even more travelers said about the airport this Christmas.
“We are certainly seeing an upward trend,” she said. “Family and friends were out to see each other.”
Dalpiaz appreciates the hopeful news about the vaccines and measures taken by the airlines and the airport to ensure the cleanliness and safety of guests.
“People are more comfortable traveling,” she said.
A travel survey by the AAA Ohio Auto Club seems to support this notion.
The survey found that 59% of Ohioans were considering a trip in 2021.
But 56% said they are still “a little” or “very uncomfortable” when traveling in the New Year.
Even so, 59% said they are still considering a trip that includes an overnight stay, with only 31% already making reservations.
“These results show Ohioans want to travel but aren’t sure what will bring in 2021,” said Jeremy Marshal, vice president of travel sales for the AAA Ohio Auto Club. “While coronavirus concerns persist, we will likely continue to make more spontaneous travel decisions to outdoor destinations such as parks and outdoor attractions in Ohio and the surrounding states.”
This is good news for places like Akron’s Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens.
It was closed to tours for months and had to cancel many of its signature events due to restrictions to prevent the virus from spreading.
The loss of visitors – coupled with income from special events and rentals – left the historic estate a $ 300,000 hole.
Further losses were offset by federal pandemic aid and generous donations from boosters.
Executive Director Sean Joyce said some of those losses could be further offset by ticket sales for Deck the Hall’s annual nightly Christmas events.
Most nights were sold out this year, Joyce said, as they had to reduce the number of tickets available to maintain social distance.
There were a large number of first-time visitors to the Goodyear Tire founder’s estate.
Joyce said many traditional vacation attractions were canceled this year, giving families a chance to tour the mansion and its decorated garden light displays.
The property is now closed for the season through late spring.
But Joyce said there are hopeful signs for 2021 as the phones are already ringing on tour bus operators looking to book excursions – something that didn’t happen in 2020.
According to Joyce, the plan is now to start the season with masks and only self-guided tours of the huge mansion, just like last year.
But they plan to resume special events, the first big one being the Father’s Day auto show.
“You never know what’s around the corner,” he said. “The good thing is that people are looking for activities.”
The desire to leave the house is reflected in future bookings for flights to and from Akron.
The airport says booking trends indicate that more and more people are booking future flights around 60 to 90 days in advance and planning to stay at their destination an average of two weeks.
Another positive trend, Dalpiaz said, is that flights will be added, including seasonal flights to the south, along with a new direct flight from Akron to Washington, DC
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“We are hopeful,” she said. “With the vaccine in particular, it should mean a change for us.”
Craig Webb can be reached at [email protected]