Travelers will stay close to home this summer but their confidence to travel internationally will return in 2021

Europ Assistance today announced the global findings of the Future of Travel survey conducted by Ipsos which surveyed 11,000 travelers across 11 countries around the world between June 5th and June 26th.

The author(s)

  • Sarah Duhautois Corporate Reputation, France
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While COVID-19 has had a major impact on the travel, the overwhelming majority (81%) of those surveyed indicated they would be interested in taking a trip in 2020, however only 35% of respondents from the 11 countries claimed to have already booked for the months of July and August or to be planning to do so. This is likely only a short-term trend as most of those surveyed also indicated they would be more confident in booking a trip later in the year. Furthermore, many of the travellers indicated they’ll return to their pre-COVID travel preferences such as flying and staying in large hotels by early next year. The key findings from this year’s Future of Travel Survey are highlighted below:

Planned travel in 2020

The survey asked travelers across the globe their thoughts on travel for this summer and moving forward into the fall and winter. The findings show that COVID-19 has not stopped travelers but caused short term changes in their trip preferences, with most preferring trips that are closer to home this year.

  • 81% of all respondents said they planned to take a trip with respondents in Italy (89%), France (87%) and Thailand (85%) leading the other countries when it comes to planned travel in 2020.
  • The average budget among global respondents is €1,506 with 36% indicating they’ll be taking a relaxing weeklong vacation at a beach destination (34% of global respondents) for their post-lockdown trip this summer.
  • 74% of global respondents indicated they’ll be travelling by car (either rented or personal) to their summer destination.
  • 33% of global respondents are choosing to stay in private rentals and 19% in small hotels, most likely in an attempt to maintain social distancing and avoid large crowds.

COVID concerns & Risk mitigation

Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 is the main fear for all travelers surveyed but we asked respondents their thoughts on what risk mitigation measures they plan to take themselves and what COVID-19 concerns need to be addressed before they begin travelling.

  • Travelers indicated that an epidemic occurring when travelling (36%), not being able to engage in their usual trip activities and sightseeing due to COVID (28%) and being quarantined abroad (27%) are the three key concerns.
  • A drop in infection rates (54%), an official government advisory (25%) and the reopening of hotels, bars and restaurants (25%) were the three leading factors that would reassure travelers.
  • The top risk mitigation behaviors travelers would engage in this year are avoid travelling to certain countries (79%), avoid crowded places (77%) and plan to stay within their own country (76%).

Mode of transportation comparisons

While the majority of global travelers are opting to take their car this summer, travel by plane is still the second choice for global travelers.

  • 74%, the overwhelming majority of global travelers indicated they’d be taking a car (rented or their own) to their summer post-lockdown getaway. The number of travelers who indicated they would take a car to their trip in the fall (58%) decreased significantly and continued to decrease when travelers were asked what their preferred mode of transport would be in the winter (56%) and in 2021 (51%).
  • 20% of all global travelers said they would take a plane this summer. However the number of respondents who said they would take in plane in the fall increased by 13 points (33%) and continued to increase when asked what mode of transport they would take in the winter (37%) with more than double saying they would travel via plane for their main trip in 2021 (44%).
  • 13% of global travelers said they would take the train this summer. Train travel remained relatively flat as a choice among travelers for the fall (16%), winter (17%) with an only 4% increase in traveler preference by 2021 (17%).  

Destination comparisons

Most travelers indicated that they’ll be travelling locally this summer, but they are eager to travel internationally in 2021.

  • 60% of travelers surveyed said they planned to travel domestically this summer. While it stayed around this level when asked about travel in the fall (52%) and winter (54%), it dropped by almost half (39%) when travelers talked about their main trip in 2021.
  • 6% of those surveyed indicated they’ll take a trip outside their mainland (Europe for the Europeans, Asia for the Asians, America for the Americans respectively) this summer. However, the number of respondents doubled when asked about their travel plans this coming fall (14%) and winter (14%) and by 2021, 19% of global travelers indicated they’ll take a trip abroad.

Trip protection

In the wake of the current pandemic, it’s no surprise that most travelers are concerned about getting protection for their next trip.

  • Prior to COVID only 48% of the travelers surveyed indicated they were covered by travel insurance. However, 54% of global travelers indicated they would purchase travel insurance for their future trips. 
  • 66% are willing to pay for repatriation if their trip destination closes their borders or imposes a lockdown.
  • 63% want to be covered for trip extension.
  • 62% want to have support for the 14 days after they return if they become sick on their trip.

Francine Abgrall, Head of Travel at Europ Assistance Group: “Our annual Holiday Barometer, which would have had its twenty-year anniversary this year, was a way for us to share the latest travel preferences held by travelers around the globe. This is why this year we worked with Ipsos on a survey that looks at the future of travel to see how much those preferences have changed or remained same. While many preferences were in line with current sentiments on social distancing (smaller accommodations) and the avoidance of crowds (minimal use of public transport), we noticed that respondents indicated they would be comfortable going back to their pre-COVID travel preferences when asked about their travel plans for 2021. Though there is still a lot of uncertainty, the results of the survey were positive with more than half of the respondents indicating they would be taking a holiday in 2020 signaling a strong rebound for the industry in the medium and long term.”

Access the U.S. report, Poland report, Belgium report

Online survey conducted by Ipsos at the request of Europ Assistance among 11,000 individuals (nationally representative samples of 1,000 people per country) in Europe (France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Poland and the UK), in Asia (China and Thailand) and in the USA. This survey is an updated version of the annual Europ Assistance & Ipsos Holiday Barometer, which was getting underway when the general lock-down began. The goal of this survey is to ascertain how the COVID-19 epidemic has altered holidaymakers’ travel plans and aspirations, in order to assist the various players in the tourism sector in preparing for the “post-COVID world”.

The author(s)

  • Sarah Duhautois Corporate Reputation, France

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