Travel season is underway around the nation and here in the Yakima Valley.  Sunshine, fresh fruit and produce, wine and beer will all draw thousands of visitors to Yakima who in turn will spend millions of leisure travel dollars!

Tourism By The Numbers

According to John Cooper, President, and CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism, there is a weekly assessment of likely travelers which shows 77% of people plan to take a couple of trips this year as the itch to get out and move about after the pandemic is an itch that has to be scratched.

Covid Still A Concern

Speaking of the pandemic, that same survey shows about 40% of would-be-travelers are still concerned about COVID and that travel plans will be modified somewhat as a result

Of all the activities and events that shut down last year, 70% of travelers say it's the return to the simple pleasure of dining out at restaurants that sends the best message that things are getting back to normal.

Travel Comes At A Cost

Cooper notes that air travel is up and crowded and getting more expensive and still requires COVID protocols so many travelers are headed for the open road in cars.  However, the cost to fuel those cars is now up 40% more since January and in Yakima, it's cost more than a dollar per gallon more than this same time a year ago.

Crossing Off The Bucket List

An interesting factor influencing some travelers is the concept of the bucket list.  A lot of people have a trip they want to take or a destination they want to see "before they kick the bucket". Before the pandemic, they might have waited a while to make those plans but the pandemic changed that.  The sudden onset of the virus and ensuing shutdown reminded people just how fast life circumstances can change, so some people aren't waiting until later to make those bucket list trips.

Waiting In Line To Be Alone With Nature

Yakima Tourism CEO John Cooper points how that the pent-up travel demand has created some unusual conditions for some of the more popular destinations-- like big crowds and long waiting lines in the great outdoors.  He says many of our National parks are slammed so he suggests seeking out state parks and other roads less traveled. He also advises everyone to know what they are doing when they wander to the woods so they burden the search and rescue networks.

Be Patient & Have Fun

Cooper's last words for the traveler are, no matter where you go, bring your patience.  Labor shortages are compromising some businesses' ability to make a full return to business as usual, so be flexible and prepare to roll with conditions as you find them.

In Yakima, tourists are "pouring" into the wineries and breweries which are expecting a good season, certainly better than last year!  Cheers!

LOOK: Stunning vintage photos capture the beauty of America's national parks

Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

Keep scrolling for 50 vintage photos that show the beauty of America's national parks.