A new travel trends research paper from Tripadvisor reveals that vaccine rollouts globally are driving increasing demand for summer vacations, with vaccinated travelers more likely to stay longer and spend more on their trips than unvaccinated travelers.
The report, “A Shot in the Arm for Travel? Examining the Vaccine’s Impact on Leisure Travel Demand,” provides a unique insight into emerging travel planning trends around the world by combining behavioral analysis of Tripadvisor’s first-party search data—revealing the type of trips travelers are actively researching on the world’s largest travel platform—with consumer sentiment analysis gathered via traveler surveys in six major international markets, exploring the latest in traveler attitudes and confidence.
The report identifies clear behavioral differences in how vaccinated and unvaccinated consumers are thinking about travel, and how that is translating into planning behaviors on the Tripadvisor platform, with vaccinated travelers more likely to be booking vacations already, and to be planning to stay longer and spend more when they travel.
In countries like the U.S. and the U.K., where the vaccination rollout has reached large swathes of the adult population, eager travelers are pushing the tourism recovery forward. At the other end of the spectrum, countries where the vaccine rollout is at a less advanced stage and new variants of COVID-19 have impacted local populations—particularly across the Asia-Pacific region—are experiencing a slower recovery in leisure travel demand.
“Higher income millennial travelers were driving the demand for leisure travel this past spring, but heading into the summer the age demographic of travelers now booking up vacations has broadened significantly, at least in countries where large populations have been vaccinated,” said Stephen Kaufer, CEO/cofounder, Tripadvisor. “If ever we needed proof that vaccines are the key to long-term recovery in the tourism sector, our latest trend data provides it. Now the focus must be on governments and international organizations to ensure vaccines reach every part of the world as quickly as possible and make it as easy as possible for vaccinated tourists to travel globally once again.”
Key findings from the report:
- The vaccine has a significant impact on the demand for accommodations. Countries where the pace of the vaccination rollout is more advanced, like the U.S. and U.K., are powering near-term growth in tourism demand, while a more muted recovery picture emerges across the Asia-Pacific region:
- More than half (51%) of U.S. respondents plan on taking a summer vacation somewhere in the U.S, and nearly a quarter (22%) plan on taking a summer vacation abroad.
- U.S. weekly hotel search volumes continue to mirror sentiment trends. In the first week of May, hotel searches were at a higher level than at any stage since the start of the pandemic.
- Elsewhere, since the turn of the year, the U.K., Spain, Italy, Germany and France have all seen significant growth in hotel search traffic on Tripadvisor, while in Australia—which is heading into its winter months—the recovery in search traffic has been largely flat.
- Vaccinated travelers are a key driver of demand—when surveyed, 32% of vaccinated travelers globally said they had booked a domestic vacation, of whom 80% agreed that the vaccine had been a factor in their decision to book. By comparison, 19% of unvaccinated travelers had already booked a domestic trip.
- Among those yet to be vaccinated, 48% of those planning a domestic trip are waiting to receive at least one dose of the vaccine before booking.
- Vaccine rollouts are also offering a boost to dining and experiences:
- In the first week of May, weekly U.S. restaurant searches on Tripadvisor were at a higher volume than at any stage since the pandemic began and experience searches were already close to last year’s summer peak.
- The U.K., France and Italy all experienced an upward spike in restaurant searches on Tripadvisor in April, with dining searches there outpacing traffic volumes at the same stage in 2020.
- Among vaccinated travelers surveyed globally, 41% said they feel more confident to dine indoors, 25% feel more confident to visit a museum and 23% feel more confident to visit a theme park.
- Domestic tourism is dominating travel planning searches for the peak season ahead, but for trips further out travelers are already actively planning international travel:
- In the first week of May, travelers planning summer vacations on Tripadvisor were overwhelmingly searching for domestic vacations—75% of June vacation searches globally were for domestic destinations, as well as 67% of searches for July trips and 62% of those looking to get away in August.
- However, for trips planned later in the year, international hotel searches on Tripadvisor made up the majority of trips planned from November onwards.
- The urban tourism revival is in full swing. City destinations are re-emerging as the trip of choice for vaccinated travelers:
- Of those vaccinated travelers planning to vacation in 2021, 32% say they feel more confident about visiting an urban center as a result of receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.
- More than a third (35%) of vaccinated respondents in the U.S. are planning a city vacation in 2021, compared to less than a quarter (24%) of unvaccinated U.S. respondents. In fact, the top five most searched destinations in the U.S. on Tripadvisor (based on site queries in the first week of May) included markets like New York City, Orlando and Las Vegas.
- On average, vaccinated travelers plan to spend more and vacation longer than other travelers:
- Globally, 22% of respondents plan to take a longer trip than they would have done pre-pandemic, rising to nearly a third (30%) of vaccinated respondents.
- During the first week of May, nearly half (46%) of all international accommodation searches on Tripadvisor were for stays lasting six days or more.
- Globally, more than a third (35%) of vaccinated travelers surveyed plan to spend more on their next trip compared to what they spent on travel prior to the pandemic, while 20% of those yet to receive the vaccine plan to do so.
- In the U.S. overall, 40% of travelers surveyed say they plan to spend more on their next trip.
“After such a turbulent year, many in tourism are hopeful that a busy summer will provide a much-needed boost to the tourism industry, so it’s welcome news to see the latest traveler data pointing in that direction, especially for destinations and hospitality businesses that are able to capture the growing demand for domestic vacations,” said Christopher Hsi, head of market research, Tripadvisor. “What offers even greater hope for a long-term recovery is the impact the vaccine is having not just on people’s confidence to travel, but also their willingness to turn planning into bookings. As more and more countries make progress on the rollout of the vaccine, and the positive impact that should have on the reopening of international borders, there is every reason to expect further growth in traveler demand will come.”