CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Government officials and health care providers around the country are advising against traveling for the holidays. Despite the concerns, Triple A is projecting more than 50 million people will be hitting the road or flying the friendly skies to visit family and friends.
While the number of travelers may be staggering, it is still a sharp decline that local businesses are feeling. Jeff Diehl is the director of operations for the Charleston Hospitality Group. He says Thanksgiving is usually an extremely busy time for them.
“Typically, this is a big weekend for us, but this year we are disappointed to see travel down a little bit,” Diehl said. “This year we are seeing quite a decline in the number of people we already have on the reservation books and that we are seeing in the streets. Wednesday is typically when we start to fill up. There are lots of open parking places in town right now.”
The Charleston Hospitality Group owns Toast, Tabbuli, Eli’s Table, Honky Tonk Saloon and Queology.
It is not just restaurants feeling the sting of a travel slow down and a socially distanced Thanksgiving, but hotels have also taken a hit.
“Certainly, the hotels are telling us we are not at 100 percent occupancy – we’re maybe at 60 or 70 percent occupancy,” Diehl said. “What we find is people from all over the southeast who don’t want to cook at home. . . will book 10 to 12 rooms at the hotels, will eat out at the restaurants that are open and stay through the weekend to shop.”
There is another side to this story.
Because so many people are locked up at home, away from their families, Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to push pause on the traditional home cocked feast and perhaps try something new.
“We have full meals to go. Full Turkeys, full sides and we will deliver it to your house or Uber, DoorDash, or Grubhub can,” Diehl said. “A lot of restaurants can bring fully dinners to the home.”
Uber Eats driver Bob Whitmire says he expects people will do just that.
“I am convinced it will be busier this year than last year,” Whitmire said. “Even if you are cooking dinner this year, maybe you don’t want to have to make breakfast the next day.”
The delivery services offer extensive menus with many chain locations, but they can also help connect customers to local businesses this holiday season.
“It really does help out the local restaurants and the local economy because sometimes they’re slow but they’re still doing great uber business,” Whitmire said.