Travel will kick back strong

BERLIN, 4 March 2021: Expect people to spend more on travel again in 2021 and the end of the pandemic will spur an era of long-term growth, ITB Berlin and the market research institute Statista concluded from a study due to be presented in detail at the ITB Berlin NOW virtual trade show next week.

Who is longing to travel far away? Who finally wants to go on a beach holiday again? Who is planning what trips to where this year? And are the long-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on travel behaviour? These questions are answered in the recent online survey conducted in Germany, the US, and China to investigate travel behaviour in 2020 as well as travel plans for 2021.

In the mood to plan trips

The survey’s findings reflect a positive mood. Around 70% of those surveyed in Germany, the US and China are thinking about private trips this year. Specifically, 37% of Germans, 42%  of Americans and 66% of Chinese are planning one or more trips.

Close to 25% of respondents in Germany and the US and over 35% in China also believe they will spend more money on travelling over the next 12 months than during the same period to date. In China, there also appears to be significant pent-up demand for travel, where close to 50% p interviewees think they travel more on an ongoing basis once the coronavirus pandemic has passed, compared with 25% in the US and 17% in Germany.

Personal safety and well-being

The majority of people not planning to travel this year say this is due to the coronavirus pandemic. It comes as no great surprise that the pandemic still heavily influences holiday planning. However, it is worth noting that perceived personal safety on a trip weighs more than travel choices being restricted. 50% of Germans not planning to travel in 2021 say they feel uneasy about taking trips during the coronavirus pandemic. In the US, the corresponding figure is 34%, and in China, even 56%. By comparison, only 23% of German respondents, 21% of Americans and 45% of Chinese state travel restrictions as to their reason for staying at home. Thus, tour operators this year face the challenge of instilling a sense of safety and well-being among their customers.

Beach holidays and city breaks

A closer look at people’s travel plans in 2021 shows a preference for beach holidays in all countries, with 34% of Germans, 36% of Americans and 42% of Chinese taking them into consideration. However, for 37 and 42% of Germans and Americans respectively, visiting family and friends comes first, whereas for 49% of Chinese city breaks are most important.

The majority of respondents in all countries plan to stay in hotels, although the figures vary significantly from country to country. In China, 86% of private travellers intend to stay in hotels, whereas in the US and Germany the proportion is much lower, at 56 and 42% respectively. In Germany and the US, close to one-third of prospective travellers in 2021 intend to stay overnight with family or friends. In China, the corresponding figure is only 16%. It is presumed that, among other things, the living conditions in the respective countries are responsible for these variations.

Holidaying at home

Questioned as to their long-term plans for the future, 35% of German respondents, 38% of Americans and 50% of Chinese believe their travel behaviour will change long-term. The reasons given were environmental considerations (47% in China) and the coronavirus pandemic (83% in Germany, 64% US, 83% in China). Among those who say their travel behaviour will change in the long run, 76% of Germans, 77% of Americans and 88% of Chinese agree with the statement: “I will take more vacation in my country.” This trend also applies to destination planning in 2021. In China and the US, only 29 and 15% respectively of those planning trips are aiming to go abroad. Germany’s figure is significantly higher, at 61%, due to its central location in Europe and proximity to many other countries.

Fewer business trips

Interviewees fielded questions about possible business trips in 2021. The research showed business travel suffering a downward trend — Germany down 27%, the US 34%, and China, 51%.

This was also reflected in answer to a question on long-term changes in travel behaviour. A high proportion in all cases, namely 65% of Germans, 66% of Americans and 63% of Chinese interviewees, agree with the statement: “I will take fewer business trips.” Outdoor activities appear to be on the rise, with 61% of Germans, 68% of Americans and as many as 91% of Chinese respondents agreeing with the statement “I will take more nature/outdoor trips.”

ITB Berlin NOW will take place from Tuesday, 9 to Friday, 12 March for trade visitors only and as an entirely virtual event. Additional information is available at www.itb.com/now

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