Domestic travel picks pace amid vaccine roll-out, easing of rules shows survey

77 per cent respondents express intent to travel over next 12 months

MUMBAI: More than a year into the pandemic, restrictions on movement continue across various countries. However, the global appetite for travel remains intact, with an inclination towards domestic travel (51 per cent) exceeding international (18 per cent). A significant fact is that the resumption of travel will start closer to home.

According to YouGov’s ‘International Travel & Tourism Report 2021: The road back to normality' , post-pandemic international travel will begin with familiar destinations, while business travel recovery may take longer. It also showed that 77 per cent of global consumers plan to travel in the next 12 months with 57 per cent planning over two trips. Majority of the travel demand will be led by millennials and Gen X, according to the survey.

The survey conducted in 25 global markets including India among 1.8 lakh respondents found that there is a gradual fall in the number of people concerned over health risks across the globe since January 2021, in line with the approvals of vaccines and their widespread rollout.

As the pandemic begins to subside globally and extensive vaccinations buoy up spirits in most parts of the world, what does the road back to normality look like for the travel & tourism sector? Encouragingly for travel companies, the intent to travel domestically for leisure rose sharply at the start of 2021. The recovery of international travel depends on softening of restrictions, found the study which shows that international travel intent in 2020 remained low due to strict restrictions. But as more herd immunity is reached in various parts of the world, it’s reasonable to expect declining health concerns, even if they don't disappear completely.

With the European Union all set to roll out its 'Green Pass' or Digital Covid certificate to facilitate free movement during these challenging times, there’s a glimmer of hope for the travel industry in 2021. And now with news coming in that European countries, including Switzerland and Germany, are ready to extend the pass to Indians vaccinated by Covishield, there is some respite in store for those pent-up wanderlust emotions lying suppressed for over a year now.

The road back to normality for the travel industry, however, is going to be a bumpy one. Only one in five consumers globally plan to travel internationally in the next 12 months. The report analyses consumer travel preferences and identifies the emerging opportunities that will prove most lucrative for industry players. As travel attitudes and restrictions shift rapidly, so do travelers' interests in particular destinations.

The changes we see in travelers’ consideration of different destinations appear linked to both the seasonal relevancy of the destination, as well as the restrictions that are currently in place to travel to or from the locale.

Health risks remain the biggest barrier to travel (48 per cent) for global survey respondents, followed by safety (37 per cent) and travel restrictions (35 per cent)- Although, the proportion of those concerned about health risks from travelling has gradually decreased since January, when it stood at 56 per cent, in line with the rollout of the vaccine.

A clear appetite for travel globally is indicated with more than 77 per cent of the respondents planning trips during the next 12 months and with more than half of this group planning two or more journeys (57 per cent).

Millennials and Gen X have the confidence and the means

The youngest generation, Gen Z, has been the hardest hit economically. While they have less concern over health risks, a lack of disposable income is holding them back in terms of their ability to travel freely, the study shows. The oldest generation is on the other side of the coin – with savings due to having spent less in the last year, but more concerns around travel safety. Somewhere in the middle is the audience travel companies are looking for. Millennials and Gen X on average have the combination of confidence to travel, lack of immediate health risks, and the finances to fund trips in the coming months and years.

The survey indicates that around a third of people globally feel restrictions are preventing them from traveling. Travel restrictions and risks of quarantine have proven to be a more constant dampener than concerns about the virus. Uncertainty over local and national lockdowns as well as international travel will continue to put downward pressure on a fragile recovery.

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