Florida, Port of Miami, Row of cruise ships docked, non-essential business due to Coronavirus.
Jeff Greenberg | Universal Images Group | Getty Images
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, travel executives have been pinning their hopes on a Covid-19 vaccine saving their industry, which has suffered from the fallout of the health crisis.
Following news Monday of Pfizer‘s vaccine data showing more than 90% efficacy among participants without evidence of prior infection, CEOs from major cruise lines and hospitality operators cheered the breakthrough.
“TripAdvisor has long believed travel will recover with vigor as soon as a vaccine was widely available. Today’s Pfizer news is a welcomed step in the right direction,” Steve Kaufer, CEO of TripAdvisor, told CNBC over email.
Shares of TripAdvisor jumped 20%.
Travel executives are hopeful that an effective vaccine will speed up the timeline around when travelers will feel comfortable getting back out and about again.
While questions remain around the supply and distribution of a vaccine, the data from Pfizer was enough to fuel travel-related stocks to the top of the S&P 500.
“This is a very positive development for the world, and, of course, our company and our brands, as well as the cruise industry. It is too early at this point to determine the impact this may have on the conditional sail order in the U.S., if any,” Carnival wrote in an email to CNBC.
Carnival shares soared about 36% on Monday, on pace for its best day ever as a public company. It went public in 1987.
Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean, has often called a vaccine the “ultimate weapon” to tackling Covid-19. Royal Caribbean rocketed up about 28%, on track for its best day since March.
In the meantime, the cruise operators are working around the clock, setting up testing facilities for all crew and conducting simulated voyages with their new COVID protocols. Once deemed successful, CDC will provide the green light. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have suspended U.S. sailing for the remainder of 2020.
Norwegian Cruise Line reports quarterly earnings after the bell on Monday, where shareholders will want to know whether a January 2021 start-date is feasible.
Analysts also are wondering whether a new administration under the leadership of President-elect Joe Biden will result in different protocols for the cruise industry. The industry has received support from Vice President Mike Pence, who reportedly overruled the CDC’s decision to extend its cruise ban until February 2021. CDC lifted its no-sail order at the end of October and issued a framework for a Conditional Sailing Order.
Truist Securities Managing Director Patrick Scholes believes a Biden administration “will be more likely to follow the recommendations of the CDC when it comes to health matters.”
Hotel operators also joined in on the market rally Monday, with Marriott on pace for its best day since March.
Online travel giant Expedia is up 20%, on pace for its largest percentage increase since 2012.
Investors are hopeful that access to a vaccine will lift confidence in travelers and result in a spike in bookings next year. Prior the Pfizer vaccine news, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson on the company’s earnings call last Friday said, “We’ll start to see meaningfully more bookings when those vaccines start to take effect.”