ORLANDO, Fla. – Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick off to the summer travel season, but numbers from Orlando International Airport show the impact COVID-19 has had on travel.
A spokesperson for the airport said, prior to the pandemic, they were expected to see 419,240 outbound passengers over the past week, since May 16th. Instead, airport officials said they’ve processed 38,229 travelers.
Officials said that’s a reduction of about 91%.
Heading into the summer months, News 6 asked travel expert Mark Murphy if people will be nervous to get back on planes.
“So the challenge with airplanes is, you can’t have that social distancing. But the good news is, the CDC just came out and reversed on the surface being contaminated being able to spread the virus,” Murphy said.
Murphy said families are ready to travel this summer.
"What’s going to happen is, you’re going to have an incredible amount of pent-up demand, especially when it comes to families,” he said.
Murphy believes Floridians are going to be ready to take advantage of some of the state’s attractions this summer.
Central Florida plays host to major theme parks, like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld.
With some parks starting to reopen, or planning their reopenings in June, Murphy said Shanghai Disney is a good indicator of what to expect for the parks in Orlando.
At Shanghai Disney, despite a low capacity, tickets sold out in hours.
Murphy said another summer travel trend Florida may see is travelers visiting from other parts of the U.S.
“You’re going to see a lot of out-of-state travelers, and one of the reasons is, we’ve already seen a huge influx from the folks up in the tri-state area,” Murphy said.
In terms of cruises, many of the major cruise lines have suspended trips until August, but Murphy said he’s heard from travel agents that people are ready to get back on board.