KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced updated travel guidance Friday, saying residents who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should feel safe to travel within the United States.
Federal health authorities still urge people to wear a mask and avoid crowds, staying at least six feet away from other people when in public, but the U.S. public clearly feels more comfortable traveling again based on Transportation Security Administration data.
That includes passengers at Kansas City International Airport.
"I'm not afraid to travel now," said Peggy McEwen, who was flying from KCI to Arizona on Friday. "I was a year ago."
Samantha Pritchard, who was also traveling Friday to Arizona, agreed: "I think it's safe to travel and I'm fully vaccinated, so I feel comfortable."
The average number of daily passengers at KCI has steadily risen since the start of 2021 from 4,936 in January to 5,766 in February and 8,156 in March.
That's encouraging news for a travel industry economically battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It was better than the March we had in 2019, and that was a record year for us," Mark Comfort, owner of Cruise Holidays and Comfort Tours and Travel in Kansas City, Missouri, said. "It just shows you the pent-up demand people have."
That demand was crippled amid emergency orders, which restricted travel and encouraged people to stay home and stay safe during the last 12 months.
"It's just been a nightmare honestly," Comfort said about the impact on the travel and tourism industry.
But there's renewed optimism for 2021, especially with an uptick in pricey trips being planned.
"I've never seen so many, in the 32 years of business, so many longer and expensive vacations," Comfort said.
He advises people to look into using a trusted travel agency when planning a vacation, especially for international travel, to make sure they are following all the proper procedures as different locations have different requirements for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
Comfort also predicts that next year will become a "rrace for space" as availability for cruises and major vacation spots will be in high demand and likely to sell out.
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