Head at Travelpayouts, the largest affiliate marketing network focused on the travel market.
It has been a tough year for the travel industry: lockdowns, border closures and flight cancellations have all contributed to low tourism rates. Nevertheless, one recent study showed promising statistics – as many as 72% of Americans intend to travel in 2021, setting this year up to a significant year for tourism. While the coronavirus has had a severe impact on the global economy, people are eager to take trips and vacations, especially with the vaccine becoming increasingly available.
What does the road to recovery look like? What is driving the resurgence of travel demand? Three components play significant roles: domestic tourism, vaccine passports and extended vacations. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
1. Domestic Tourism
With many limitations on international travel still in effect, the biggest anticipated travel trend for 2021 is a surge of domestic and “staycation” travel. The post-lockdown surge of visitors many American state and national parks experienced in 2020 is indicative of this trend, which I expect will carry on into 2021 and beyond as time spent in nature often provides a necessary break from modern urban life.
Already in January of this year, nearly 70% of visitors searching for hotels on Tripadvisor were booking future domestic trips, most of which fall from May through August. In the same report, Tripadvisor noted that, in the U.S., nearly 80% of respondents intend to go on at least one overnight domestic trip in 2021, with 34% planning at least three overnight trips. At the same time, more and more people are switching to the “last minute” mindset. Marco Corradino, CEO of lastminute.com, said that their website showed a 200% increase in bookings departing within the week compared to last year. People are changing their travel behaviors and taking advantage of opportunities as soon as they arise.
2. Vaccine Passports
Vaccine passports, also known as digital health passports, can act as digital proof of vaccination against Covid-19, as well as other coronavirus test results or health waivers. While currently not officially a travel requirement, vaccine passports are potentially on the horizon and could have a huge impact on travel. Though considered controversial by some, vaccine passports would be a game-changer for many travelers’ confidence. According to Tripadvisor, 77% of travelers surveyed across the world say they will be more likely to travel internationally once they receive the vaccine. The statistic goes as high as 86% for domestic travel. Hopefully, if implemented, vaccine passports would allow people to travel freely without the need for quarantine, encouraging more international travel.
3. Extended Vacations
As people followed stay-at-home orders and quarantined themselves, many developed what is known as “quarantine fatigue,” or exhaustion associated with the restrictive lifestyle. While the symptoms vary from person to person, the most common are irritability, stress and anxiety, eating more or less than usual, and troubles with sleep and motivation. This is further exacerbated by the closure of offices, schools and day cares. Today, more and more people are deciding to venture out and travel as means to fight quarantine fatigue.
Consequently, we can expect longer stay holidays to become more popular this year. With an estimated 71% of Americans working remotely, there’s no need to rush back to the office. This newfound flexibility will likely inspire travelers to stay at their destinations longer.
Travel Industry: Be Prepared
The world’s appetite for travel is as strong as it has ever been, and many are already planning their next holidays. With vaccine approvals and distribution already in place, the world is anticipating to go back to traveling sooner than later. It is a critical time for entrepreneurs and companies in the travel industry to attract the early resurgence of booking demand. Monitoring the current situation closely, reviving connections with customers and tailoring travel products will facilitate the industry’s and individual businesses’ successful recovery.