Necessary safety measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic have inevitably disrupted tourism flows and tampered with our ability to travel freely; and while these precautionary hurdles have not weakened our resolve to go on a vacation getaway, they instead appear to have made us re-think the distance we are willing to travel for a break in our daily routines.
The Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index (NBI) 2020, a survey of 20,000 global citizens in 20 different nations, reveals that when pondering travel in the next five years, a vast majority feels most comfortable traveling domestically rather than internationally - given how various nations around the world respond to health crises. The only exception, are those from Brazil, who are equally split on their comfort level regarding domestic and international travel:
In the next five years domestic travel might become more prevalent, and nations may have to temporarily adjust their tourism strategies, offerings, and price points to be more attuned with, and suited to, the needs and interests of their respective citizens.
Though fewer in number, some global citizens still feel comfortable exploring the world in the next five years - signaling that international travel will not come to a complete standstill. Nonetheless, travel plans and flow patterns will be directly affected by how nations respond to health crises, and how comfortable these measures make travelers feel. The top five nations which global citizens would feel most comfortable visiting in the next five years, based on how they respond to health crises, are:
The top five nations which global travelers would feel most comfortable traveling to in the near future are those which have made significant strides to contain the propagation of the COVID-19 pandemic within their own borders. Consequently, it is unsurprising that the nations with the highest levels of net favorability, based on how they respond to healthcare crises, are:
The handling of health crises by some countries has led to significant negative favorability impacts. The following markets have the greatest “net negative” favorability in terms of their health crises management:
The United States ranks last out of the 50 measured nations in net favorability for its handling of healthcare crises. This particular instance helps further illustrate that the reputational losses incurred by poor perception in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic may have a greater toll on near-future tourism flows. Not only does it appear that travel in the next few years will mostly occur within nations’ borders - but while those willing to go beyond their own national boundaries are likely to travel to countries close in geographical proximity, they are even more likely to travel to nations which appear to have made significant strides to contain the proliferation of the pandemic – highlighted as follows by the top international destinations for each of the 20 measured NBI nations:
The long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry is still largely unknown. New NBI 2020 results expectedly demonstrate that the ways in which countries handle health crises impacts favorability towards those nations. Those which have made significant progress to contain the COVID-19 pandemic are seen more favorably. Nations with net gains in favorability have a unique opportunity to attract international travelers in a time when most are cautious about venturing beyond their own nation’s borders; while those with net losses in favorability, must work actively to regain trust.
“These important findings confirm that good governance – especially when it also produces benefits outside a nation’s borders – is the key to a powerful and positive international reputation. This, in turn, tends to attract more trade, tourism, foreign investment and talent. In today’s world of global challenges, doing good and doing well are inseparable,” added Simon Anholt.
These results, along with NBI 2020 ratings, will provide critical insight to nations working to manage their brands and restore their business and tourism sectors quickly after the pandemic. Having a deep understanding of current perceptions, in the global context and in these turbulent times, can help guide future communications and marketing efforts for greater likelihood of success.