This time last year, the travel industry had high hopes of continuing its ten-year run of growth in 2020. Business meetings, events, and conferences had been driving expansion and were therefore focus areas in the strategies of many organisations in the industry. Overtourism and sustainability were also high on the agenda. But COVID-19 has not only halted all travel, it has also impacted the types of trips people opted for during the pandemic.
With the vaccine in sight, we now begin to look at whether and how travel preferences have changed. What’s the road to recovery in domestic versus international travel? And will we continue to seek remote locations for our holiday getaways, as many of us have during the pandemic, or will most be comfortable returning to city trips and other popular pre-pandemic travel options?
New research from YouGov’s Global Travel Profiles tool reveals that most consumers around the world are keen to take a domestic holiday (44%) with only a quarter of respondents planning an international trip. Currently, the most popular trip type across 25 countries — from a sample of roughly 17,000 people — is visiting friends and family (37%). It seems people long to see their loved ones and reconnect with friends face to face. In the top three, there are also preferences for beach vacations (36%) and sight-seeing trips (34%).
But the data also reveals that there are significant differences between markets. For example, people in the US (54%), Australia (53%) and UAE (48%) over-index in their preferences for trips to see family and friends. These types of trips are significantly less prevalent in China (20%), Japan (21%), and Italy, (25%).
In the UK, 44% of Brits say they are keen to take a leisure trip domestically in the next 12 months, and one in three plan to go abroad. Across both of these groups, the vast majority of respondents (77%) would opt-in for a short city break as well as combine relaxation with a sight-seeing or activity holiday (64%). The third most popular type of trip is a beach holiday, with 56% eager to book their time in the sun.
Likewise, beach trips are popular among people in the Philippines (45%), Malaysia (42%), Germany (41%), but less so in places such as China (26%), Singapore (23%), and Japan (14%).
It has been a hard year for the travel industry, and a lot of marketing activity has been (rightly) put on pause while we wait for travel demand to return. With vaccine approvals and distribution beginning, we’re nearing the transition from this travel hiatus to a return to active planning and traveling. Now is a critical time for reinvigorating connections with consumers and preparing for the resurgence of demand. Tailoring travel products to the right audience can help brands and destinations optimise their market activity and facilitate a faster travel and tourism recovery.
Methodology: The data from YouGov Global Travel Profiles is based on the interviews of 16,872 adults aged 18 and over across 25 countries. All interviews were conducted online and the results are unweighted. The countries in the poll include Australia, France, Germany, India, the UK, the US, China, Sweden, Indonesia, Canada, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Italy, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Norway, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Finland, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, and the Philippines.