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Tour operators hail Pfizer Covid vaccine information as a "welcome transfer" in returning demand

Florida, Port of Miami, row of cruise ships docked, not essential due to coronavirus.

Jeff Greenberg | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, tour guides have placed their hopes on a Covid-19 vaccine that will save their industry, which has suffered the aftermath of the health crisis.

Following Monday's news of Pfizer's vaccine data showing greater than 90% efficacy in participants with no prior evidence of infection, CEOs of major cruise lines and hotel operators hailed the breakthrough.

"TripAdvisor has long believed that once a vaccine becomes widely available, travel will bounce back. Today's Pfizer news is a welcome step in the right direction," Steve Kaufer, TripAdvisor CEO, told CNBC in an E -Mail.

TripAdvisor shares rose 21.67%.

Tour guides hope that an effective vaccine will reduce the amount of time travelers are comfortable when they are back on the road.

While questions about the delivery and distribution of a vaccine remain open, Pfizer's data was enough to bring travel-related stocks to the top of the S&P 500.

"This is a very positive development for the world and of course for our company and brands, as well as the cruise industry. It is too early at this point to determine the impact this may have on conditional sail orders in the US if anything, "Carnival wrote in an email to CNBC.

Its stocks rose nearly 40% on Monday, Carnival's best day as a public company. It went public in 1987.

Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean, has often called a vaccine the "ultimate weapon" against Covid-19. Royal Caribbean rose nearly 29% for its best day since March.

In the meantime, the cruise lines are working around the clock, setting up test facilities for the entire crew, and running simulated trips using their new Covid protocols. As soon as the CDC deems the security protocols appropriate, it will give the green light. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line suspended US sailing for the remainder of 2020.

Norwegian Cruise Line reports a quarterly profit on the Monday after the bell, which shareholders would like to know if a start date in January 2021 is possible.

Analysts also wonder if a new administration led by President-elect Joe Biden will lead to different protocols for the cruise industry. The industry has received support from Vice President Mike Pence, who has reportedly overruled the CDC's decision to extend the cruise ban through February 2021. The CDC lifted their no-sailing ordinance in late October and issued a framework for a conditional sailing ordinance.

Patrick Scholes, managing director of Truist Securities, said he believes a Biden administration "is more likely to follow CDC recommendations when it comes to health issues."

Hotel operators also took part in the market rally on Monday, and Marriott was well on its way since March.

The online travel giant Expedia grew by 20%, the largest percentage increase since 2012. It closed with a new 52-week high of 24.6%.

Investors are confident that having access to a vaccine will build traveler confidence and lead to a surge in bookings over the next year. Prior to the Pfizer vaccine news, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said on the company's earnings call last Friday, "We will see significantly more bookings when these vaccines go into effect."

Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, said on CNBC's Closing Bell that he was optimistic about the impact of the positive results from Pfizer and German partner BioNTech. He warned, however, that the travel industry still has a "long, long way to go" before it returns to pre-pandemic levels.

"There's a lot of uncertainty out there and I'm not going to change what we said last week. It's going to take some time," said Fogel. "We believe it will be years, not quarters, for us to recover" through 2019.

Booking Holdings' shares, which include brands like Booking.com and Priceline.com, closed more than 18% on Monday.

– CNBC's Kevin Stankiewicz contributed to this report.

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