It’s the biggest employer across the world and was one of the first to get hit when the Covid pandemic started from Wuhan, last January. As airlines across the world began to cancel their schedules, there were fewer people travelling within and across countries. Subsequently, hotels began to see a flurry of cancellations and eventually they shuttered down.
Seventeen months since the Covid 19 pandemic cut across a swathe of countries, the travel and tourism sector is going nowhere. One after another, airlines are going bankrupt, many sold off their fuel guzzlers and many others have mothballed their aircraft which were accustomed to flying round the clock.
The Hospitality sector was feeling no better. With feeder services like airlines closing shop, many nations were left to deal with domestic tourists only. Countries like Thailand, which are heavily dependent on tourism, had to rapidly shut down their borders and enforce a strict lockdown. On the other hand, United States and Europe which feed in tourist traffic, have been opening up their internal restrictions, following vaccination of a substantial number of their citizens. There is also a talk of vaccine passport, but that is yet to evolve with specific protocols in place.
Travel and tourism portal, Trip Advisor had recently surveyed more than 2,400 consumers across six major markets to see how these trends were developing, and whether increasing confidence – if still evident – was translating into tangible travel planning and booking behaviors.
The resilience of consumers’ attitudes to travel has been a recurring theme in much of our research over the last twelve months, and we found evidence of it again in our latest consumer sentiment analysis. When asked to describe their attitude to travel in 2021 compared to their attitudes before the pandemic, around a third of those surveyed globally (30%) reported feeling “more determined than ever to travel this year” with a further thirty-seven percent (37%) agreeing with the statement: “I want to travel as much as I did before”. The remaining thirty-three percent (33%) of respondents said they are “more cautious about traveling this year”
However, this global picture only tells part of the story, because between markets there were some stark differences in consumer attitudes. Respondents in the U.S. are the most determined to travel – nearly half (45%) reported feeling that way – while at the other end of the spectrum, half (50%) of travelers in Japan are “more cautious about traveling this year”.
These differences in attitude are also reflected in the booking behaviors that consumers report. Globally, about a third (27%) of those surveyed say they have already booked at least one vacation this year and a half (51%) are planning to do so 2. The U.S. has the highest proportion of travel planners and bookers – eighty-seven percent (87%) while Japan the lowest – fifty-six percent (56%).
These travel planning trends are evident in search behaviors on Tripadvisor too. Overall, search volumes on the site are growing, but the pace of growth is far from uniform between countries and regions.