About two-thirds of travelers surveyed said they would return to Cape Cod this summer, when local officials hope much of the popular tourist destination’s hospitality sector is up and running in some form after pandemic-driven shutdowns.
Members of a Cape Cod reopening task force have said they expect this year’s summer season — when many businesses earn the income that allows them to stay afloat year-round — to be an abbreviated one and overall look differently due to public health restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Northcross said a survey of visitors in an opt-in database her organization uses yielded more than 500 responses, and 85 percent said they would feel comfortable returning to the Cape at some point.
Sixty-seven percent of survey respondents said they'd return this summer, Norcross said, with others indicating they planned to travel in the fall or winter.
Norcross said visitors expressed an interest in staying on Cape Cod longer — for hotel stays of more than two nights, compared to what’s historically been an average hotel stay of 1.7 nights — but also needed more time to plan their trips. She said planning time has increased to three to 12 months, reflecting extra care people will be taking to travel safely.
"We are used to our nearby customers deciding within hours or a day or two to come to the Cape, make reservations," Northcross said. "They know that accommodations are plentiful or they have their own home."
Senator Julian Cyr said that task force members have been “working diligently to plan for” the next phase of Governor Charlie Baker’s reopening plan, when restaurants and hotels are slated to be able to reopen with restrictions. The group plans to release updated guidance for seasonal residents on Thursday, reflecting details of the state reopening plan, he said.
"If people take personal responsibility, that is going to give us the best chance to continue the downward trend we're seeing in the morbidity/mortality data," said Cyr, a Truro Democrat.
Sean O’Brien, director of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment, said the county has had about 1,200 COVID-19 cases throughout the duration of the pandemic so far.
“We are still seeing some cases happen, but I think for the most part, we are definitely on the back side of this,” O’Brien said. “We’re climbing down the back of the mountain.”