A majority of Americans have not committed to traveling internationally in 2021. If Covid-19 containment and management improve, there could be an upside for European and beach vacation destinations according to a September survey of 3,000 North American travelers conducted by Travel Leaders Group.

  • 45 percent of respondents have already made plans, or are starting to make plans for their next vacation, while 54 percent have no firm plans.
  • In April 2020, daily TSA airport screening fell below 90,000 per day. Now, it is approaching one million per day at peak times. This is about 43 percent of the pre-pandemic figures, which averaged between 2.3 million and 2.7 million passengers each day.

Of the 45 percent who responded that they will travel:

  • 23 percent of respondents said they plan to travel by the end of 2020, 70 percent said they will travel in 2021, and 18 percent said they will travel in 2022.
  • 47 percent said they will fly to their next destination, 21 percent will drive, and 17 percent said they plan to cruise.
  • Top-ranked international destinations were Europe (38%) the Caribbean (34%) and Mexico (15%).

There is a willingness to travel, but caution is top of mind based on the destination picks with U.S. travelers favoring domestic locations.

“We continue to see strong interest in domestic travel, beach destinations, and less crowded destinations in both the US and Canada, while the popularity of Europe across the board is encouraging,” said Stephen McGillivray, chief marketing officer for Travel Leaders Group. Among the top U.S. destinations for 2021 are national parks, Florida, Hawaii, Alaska, California, and “anywhere uncrowded.”

What are Travelers Worry About?

More than half of travelers surveyed say they are concerned about the risk of being infected when traveling on a plane or on a cruise, or getting stuck while traveling or being quarantined on a cruise ship or at a hotel.

According to Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the WTTC, “Consumer uncertainty about the risk of exposure or concerns about being quarantined is a core problem. With rapid testing to replace quarantine requirements, enhanced contact tracing, and industry-wide standards by sector that can be clearly communicated to the public, we can help alleviate many of those concerns.”

What Would Boost Travelers Confidence in Travel?

Respondents cited these health and safety initiatives as critical to their willingness to travel: mandatory masks, social distancing, enhanced cleaning, temperature checks, and access to sanitizing hand gel.

What Does the Travel Industry Need to Do?

“Our industry needs to do more to inform potential travelers about all of the health and safety protocols that have been implemented across the industry and continue to standardize those protocols to restore consumer confidence in travel,” said John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group.

Better communication and rapid testing are key to gaining travelers’ confidence, which would encourage them to travel further.

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Categories: Trends