What happened 

Shares of travel stocks recovered some of the losses they've endured over the last few weeks. Marriott International IncHyatt Hotels CorporationCarnival CorpRoyal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, and Expedia Group Inc all jumped double-digits on Friday. Here's a look at their highs today and where they closed compared to Thursday. 

Company Max Daily Increase Close
Marriott International Inc (MAR 0.76%) 25.7% 11.7%
Hyatt Hotels Corporation (H 0.79%) 25.5% 17.5%
Carnival Corp (CCL -1.82%) 38.1% 20%
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL -0.64%) 25.1% 6%
Expedia Group Inc (EXPE 0.26%) 17.5% 0.8%

Source: Google Finance. 

So what

There were a few pieces of data that came out today that were either encouraging or panic-inducing, depending on how you look at them. One was a report from analytics firm STR showing that hotel revenue fell 5.5% globally in February versus a year ago. This was in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, but included an 85.9% drop in revenue per available room in Hong Kong and an 82.2% drop in mainland China. 

Information panel at an airport with COVID-19 on it.

Image source: Getty Images.

Carnival also pre-announced adjusted earnings per share of $0.22 versus a $0.49 per share profit a year ago. The company pulled guidance for the rest of 2020 but shockingly was still profitable in the first fiscal quarter of the year. 

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson also released a video that touted the resurgence of demand in greater China as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. He acknowledged that there will be a huge downturn in much of the world, but there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, if China is any indication. This may seem like a small signal, but if Sorenson is seeing brighter days ahead, the travel industry might too. 

Now what

The bottom line is we don't know where the travel industry will end the COVID-19 pandemic. Some companies may need bailouts, others will go through bankruptcy, and some will thrive on their own. What I think investors can take from today is that the industry is seeing that there could be some hope ahead, especially now that most of the U.S. and Europe have shut down to control the spread of the virus. 

It's tough to call the bottom of any market and there's no doubt rough days are ahead for the operations of travel companies. But if you're bullish on the industry's long-term prospects, it might be time to start jumping back into travel stocks