Hesitation to travel growing survey shows

Travelers feel less safe as the Covid-19 pandemic continues and the likelihood of them taking any type of trip in the next six months is falling, new research shows.

The second round of a traveler sentiment poll from MMGY Travel Intelligence for the U.S. Travel Association shows that the likelihood of consumers taking a leisure trip in the next six month has dropped from 39% to 31% since March, while those who say they expect to take a business trip in the next six months has dropped from 26% to 21%.

The survey, conducted April 4 through 11 and released Thursday, also showed that 6 in 10 leisure travelers have canceled a planned vacation as a result of Covid-19, while 1 in 3 has postponed vacation plans in hopes of rescheduling later in the year.

A second survey released Thursday by Phocuswright of travelers in the U.S., the United Kingdom, France and Germany showed that — except in Germany — more travelers with upcoming travel plans postponed rather than canceled their trips. That poll was conducted March 20 through 28.

In the U.S., 33% postponed upcoming trips, while 29% canceled. Of those who chose to postpone, 61 percent said they hoped to take their vacation within the next six months.

“The bright spot we are seeing really is, first of all, that travelers are optimistic,” Phocuswright researcher Madeline List said in presenting the findings during a webinar.

She said travelers are watching for infection rates, lowered government restrictions and the reopening of hotels, restaurants, bars and activities before they resume travel.

“They think this is going to happen relatively soon,” List said. “They are watching for these things to change.”

So while things are on pause right now, List said, “that zeal [to travel] is still there.”

The survey showed travelers biggest fears right now are getting infected while traveling and of being quarantined or stuck somewhere.

More than half of the respondents to the MMGY survey said they will be eager to travel for leisure once the pandemic passes. And 4 in 10 said they will likely travel by plane, while 1 in 3 said they are more likely to take a vacation closer to home than they were before Covid-19.

Still, both surveys indicated there was not a huge appetite for special deals.

MMGY said its survey showed the potential impact of attractive travel deals to help stimulate bookings fell 9 percentage points from March to April.

List said the Phocuswright data indicated younger travelers were most likely to take advantage of Covid-19 related deals, with 41% of travelers under 34 saying they were likely to, compared with just 21% of travelers over 55.

The Phocuswright survey also found travelers are generally pleased with the government actions that have been taken and are not resentful about having to change their vacation plans, List said.

Likewise, a full 64% are highly satisfied by how travel companies have handled their cancellations and changes in these chaotic times.

“This is cause for the travel providers to give themselves a pat on the back,” said List. 

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