1. Travelers are planning to travel abroad in the second half of the year, but won’t wait to make plans
With the pandemic wreaking havoc on many people’s travel plans in 2020, it is no surprise that nearly two thirds (65%) of leisure travelers surveyed say they did not travel internationally at all in 2020. We anticipate a reversal of that behavior in 2021. Nearly half (47%) of all respondents globally say they are planning to travel internationally in 2021, with less than a third (30%) of travelers saying they don’t expect to travel internationally at all this year.
In fact, one in nine respondents (11%) have already booked an international trip for 2021, and an additional 17% say they are actively in research mode. In the United States, 13% of respondents have already booked an upcoming international trip.
While recent returns by governments to lockdowns in Europe and the United States means travelers are likely grounded through much of the first quarter, we anticipate significant recovery across the industry heading into the summer months. Already, the majority of hotel clicks on Tripadvisor for trips taking place from May onwards are to international destinations as opposed to domestic destinations (which still dominate hotel clicks for trips planned between January to April). This is an early signal that travelers are feeling increasingly confident that they will be able to travel abroad in 2021, at least in the back half of the year.
2. Vaccinations will be a game-changer for traveler confidence
The speed at which governments administer COVID-19 vaccinations will directly impact how quickly leisure travel rebounds in 2021.
Globally, more than three quarters (77%) of travelers surveyed say they will be more likely to travel internationally if they receive the vaccine, rising to 86% for travel domestically. In the U.S, more than a third of travelers (34%) surveyed say they are much more likely to take an international trip in 2021 once they have received the vaccine.
Vaccination programs won’t just impact travelers’ confidence to travel, they will have a major influence on where leisure travelers are prepared to go too.
More than a quarter (26%) of respondents globally say that in order to ensure safe travel they will only travel to destinations that require visitors to be vaccinated before travel, with Australian (32%) and U.S. (30%) travelers the most likely to expect destinations to adopt this safety measure in 2021.
3. Domestic vacations remain high on travelers’ wish list for 2021
Given a lot of travelers had to switch their vacation plans in 2020 from a trip abroad to a vacation closer to home, it would be easy to assume that an expected boost in international tourism might come at the expense of domestic tourism. Yet in fact, travelers still have a strong desire to travel within their own country. In the first week of January, nearly 70% of hotel clickers on Tripadvisor were booking domestic trips, while further out, May through August are still proving the most popular months for domestic vacations.
Globally, three quarters (74%) of travelers surveyed plan to take at least one overnight domestic leisure trip in 2021, with Italians (88%) the most likely to be planning a domestic trip of the six markets surveyed.
The number of trips planned also highlights the continuing popularity of domestic vacations with nearly half (45%) of respondents planning at least two domestic trips in 2021, up from 40% who took at least two domestic vacations in 2020. In the U.S, just over a third of respondents (34%) are planning at least three domestic trips this year, compared to 31% of Australians surveyed and 24% of British travelers.
4. The joy of vacation-planning will be stronger than ever as travelers spend more time researching 2021 trips