Around the globe, people have been looking forward to their 2021 holiday-season trips all year round. Yet, the Omicron variant of COVID seems to be casting a dark cloud over the travel season, and Premise, a global insights company, has been actively tracking general sentiment among travelers.
Two years later, these COVID variants are still causing this hesitancy among travelers. Many are taking their first foray into traveling since the pandemic began, presenting a unique opportunity to see what effect the Omicron variant will have on holiday travel plans for 2021.
Over 9,000 Premise Contributors were surveyed throughout 23 countries about their travel plans this 2021 holiday season, as well as the impact the pandemic has had on their plans. The data collection took place from November 24 through 30, 2021 in 23 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam.
52% of respondents reported being “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to travel, while 48% were “not too likely” or “not likely at all” to travel this holiday season. A positive indicator for this holiday travel season is that 76% of the respondents that reported they are planning to travel have a holiday budget that is either more or about the same as 2019 pre-COVID levels.
In 2021, only 33% of respondents canceled holiday travel plans entirely due to the COVID-19 spike and numerous variants, a number that’s down 14% from 2020, indicating an increased willingness and acceptance by travelers to navigate inconveniences presented by the pandemic. 40% of respondents said they modified travel plans for 2021, up 9% from 2020 again, suggesting an increased willingness to change plans to deal with COVID-19 variants or spikes rather than cancel holiday travel altogether.
“Holiday travel is clearly ramping up even though travelers with international plans have more to consider,” said Steven Casley, Global Business Development Executive Travel & Hospitality at Premise Data. “Of the respondents who are planning to travel, 81% are traveling domestically within their country of residence with only 19% planning to travel internationally to another country. “Ever-shifting restrictions in countries all over the world and the new US requirement to take a test within one day of a return flight’s departure for the United States are all factors negatively impacting international travel recovery.”
27% stayed with their usual travel plans, up 5% from 2020, another positive trend for 2021. A majority of survey respondents cited health screening requirements as incentive to travel, with mask-wearing, proof of vaccination, and COVID-19 testing having the highest level of support from 2021 holiday travelers. Though these restrictions are still impacting the level of international travel, domestic travel is certainly experiencing a positive swing this holiday season.
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