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Tourism After Lockdown: Recovery Scenarios

With international and business travel caught in the everchanging crossfire of quarantine rules and other COVID-19 restrictions, staycations became a significant driver of the occupancy gains that have emerged since the beginning of the pandemic.

STR’s Tourism Consumer Insights team continues to keep a close eye on traveler and tourism trends as the industry moves through the most optimistic point of the pandemic. The twists and turns of the pandemic have contributed to seismic changes in tourism.

In February 2021, STR conducted quantitative research via its Traveler Panel to examine attitudes toward travel in this “new COVID world.” While it is difficult to predict levels of business travel in the coming months and years, as discussed in a previous “Tourism After Lockdown” piece, the current path to recovery suggests a clearer and brighter future for leisure travel.  

In this latest installment of our Tourism After Lockdown blog series, we evaluate post-pandemic recovery scenarios for domestic and international leisure travel.

Once the pandemic is over, holiday travel here we come!

According to our latest research, the pandemic has certainly not dampened consumer appetite for travel.

We asked about likelihood to travel when all restrictions are lifted and the pandemic is completely over. Suggesting that travel has become more important due to COVID-19, the vast majority stated that they were as or more likely to travel than before the pandemic with domestic tourism showing the sharpest increase in interest.

Once the pandemic is over, holiday travel here we come!

These results highlight, and align with recent hotel performance data, that domestic leisure travel will continue to be key in global hospitality recovery.

While domestic travel has been in the spotlight for boosting tourism, some countries have already introduced measures to attract international guests via special visas, promotions and by emphasizing health and safety processes. Similarly, governments in many parts of the world have implemented incentives to help increase demand lost to the global pandemic. Our findings show that consumers, once the pandemic is completely brought under control, seem likely and willing to grasp these travel opportunities.

Are we there yet?

While vaccination programs continue to expand globally, travel restrictions and new waves of the virus are still affecting many parts of the world. So, what is the traveler sentiment now with more people vaccinated and with a route out of the pandemic?

Are we there yet?

As shown above, there is less interest in travel in the current situation compared with when the pandemic is over. However, net propensity to travel – the difference between those who said they were more likely and less likely to travel – compared to before the pandemic is positive (+7%) for domestic tourism. This signals that domestic wanderlust has returned to and indeed surpassed pre-pandemic levels. The picture is less rosy for international travel as there is currently a negative net propensity to travel (-23%). This implies that international travel is much less appealing now than before the pandemic.

Nonetheless, sentiment today has shifted significantly compared with last year as travel, especially international, was much less appealing and probable.

Some things change quickly, other things don’t

So, between now and sometime in the future, when hopefully the pandemic is fully under control, we expect to see a strong uptick in both domestic and international travel. Experience shows us how quickly perceptions and behavior can change. One thing though which seems fixed is the strong desire among consumers to reengage with travel.

If you would like to find out more about how STR can help you get closer to your customers during these volatile and uncertain times, please click here.

We were excited to share more in-depth findings during our recent full Hotel Data Conference: Global Edition, which was a 13-hour event that covered APAC, Middle East & Africa, Europe, Central & South America and North America. Purchase access to the Attendee Hub to watch more than 50 sessions and view PDFs of the presentations
here. All recordings will be available through 23 June 2021.

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