As one of the countries where the vaccination rollout has already reached a large swathe of the adult population, eager travellers from the UK – alongside travellers in the U.S. – are pushing the tourism recovery forward, according to the report’s findings. 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.
The report, entitled ‘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 behavioural analysis of Tripadvisor’s first-party search data – revealing the type of trips travellers are actively researching on the world’s largest travel platform – with consumer sentiment analysis gathered via traveller surveys in six major international markets, exploring the latest in traveller attitudes and confidence.
The report identifies clear behavioural differences in how vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers are thinking about travel, and how that is translating into travel planning behaviours on the Tripadvisor platform, with vaccinated travellers more likely to be booking trips already, and to be planning to stay longer and spend more when they travel.
“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 organisations 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,” said Stephen Kaufer, CEO and co-founder, Tripadvisor, Inc.
Key findings from the report include:
The vaccine has a significant impact on the demand for accommodation. Countries where the pace of the vaccination rollout is more advanced, like the UK and U.S., are powering near-term growth in tourism demand, while a more muted recovery picture emerges across the Asia-Pacific region:
In the UK, almost half (44%) of Brits plan on taking a summer holiday somewhere in the UK, and over a quarter (26%) plan on taking a summer holiday abroad.
UK weekly hotel search volumes continue to mirror sentiment trends. In the first week of May 2021, hotel searches were at a significantly higher level than at this stage last year.
Elsewhere, since the turn of the year, the US, 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 travellers are a key driver of demand – when surveyed, over a quarter (26%) of vaccinated travellers in the UK said they had booked a domestic holiday, of whom almost three-quarters (71%) agreed that the vaccine had been a factor in their decision to book. By comparison, less than a fifth (19%) of UK unvaccinated travellers had already booked a domestic trip.
Among Brits who are yet to be vaccinated, nearly half (49%) 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:
The UK, France and Italy all experienced an upwards spike in restaurant searches on Tripadvisor in April, with dining searches there outpacing traffic volumes at the same stage in 2020.
Among vaccinated UK travellers surveyed, almost a third (30%) said they feel more confident to dine indoors, one in five (20%) feel more confident to visit a museum, and fifteen percent (15%) feel more confident to visit a theme park, as a result of receiving the vaccine.
Domestic tourism is dominating travel planning searches for the peak season ahead, but for trips further out travellers are already actively planning international travel:
In the first week of May, travellers from Europe and the Middle East planning summer holidays on Tripadvisor were overwhelmingly searching for domestic trips – sixty-nine (69%) of June travel searches globally were for domestic destinations, as well as sixty-three (63%) of searches for July trips and sixty percent (60%) 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 September 2021 onwards among travellers from Europe and the Middle East.
The urban tourism revival is in full swing! City destinations are re-emerging as the trip of choice for vaccinated travellers:
Of those vaccinated UK travellers planning trips in 2021, nearly a third (31%) say they feel more confident about visiting an urban centre as a result of receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.
Almost a third (29%) of vaccinated respondents in the UK are planning a city break in 2021, compared to less than a quarter (21%) of unvaccinated UK respondents.
On average, vaccinated travellers plan to spend more and take longer trips than other travellers:
Globally, twenty-two percent (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 travellers surveyed plan to spend more on their next trip compared to what they spent on travel prior to the pandemic, while only a fifth (20%) of those yet to receive the vaccine plan to do so.
In the UK, overall, twenty-one percent (21%) of travellers surveyed say they plan on taking a longer trip than they would have done pre-pandemic and a quarter (25%) say that 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 traveller data pointing in that direction, especially for destinations and hospitality businesses that are able to capture the growing demand for domestic travel,” 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 re-opening of international borders, there is every reason to expect further growth in traveller demand will come.”