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 what is the short to long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic on travel behaviour? These are just some of the questions that ITB Berlin and the market research institute Statista have been examining. A recent online surveyhas been conducted in Germany, the US, and China investigating travel behaviour of the past 12 months as well as travel plans for 2021.
People plan to spend more on travel again in 2021 – the end of the pandemic will likely spur long-term growth
The survey’s findings reflect a positive mood. Around 70 per cent of those surveyed in Germany, the US and China are thinking about private trips this year. Specifically, 37 per cent of Germans, 42 per cent of Americans and 66 per cent of Chinese are planning one or more trips. Close to 25 per cent of respondents in Germany and the US and over 35 per cent 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 per cent of interviewees think they travel more on an ongoing basis once the coronavirus pandemic has passed, compared with 25 per cent in the US and 17 per cent in Germany.
Personal safety is very important on a private trip – well-being is more important than travel choices
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 per cent 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 per cent, and in China even 56 per cent. By comparison, only 23 per cent of German respondents, 21 per cent of Americans and 45 per cent of Chinese state travel restrictions as 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 are popular in every country – for Germans and Americans visiting family and friends is most important – Chinese prefer city breaks
A closer look at people’s travel plans in 2021 shows a preference for beach holidays in all countries, with 34 per cent of Germans, 36 per cent of Americans and 42 per cent of Chinese taking them into consideration. However, for 37 and 42 per cent of Germans and Americans respectively, visiting family and friends comes first, whereas for 49 per cent 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 per cent of private travellers intend to stay in hotels, whereas in the US and Germany the proportion is much lower, at 56 and 42 per cent 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 per cent. It is presumed that among other things the living conditions in the respective countries are responsible for these variations.
Holidaying at home – Germans also plan to take trips abroad
Questioned as to their long-term plans for the future, 35 per cent of German respondents, 38 per cent of Americans and 50 per cent of Chinese believe their travel behaviour will change long-term. The reasons given were environmental considerations (47 per cent in China) and the coronavirus pandemic (83 per cent in Germany, 64 per cent in the US, 83 per cent China). Among those who say their travel behaviour will change in the long run, 76 per cent of Germans, 77 per cent of Americans and 88 per cent 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 per cent respectively of those planning trips are aiming to go abroad. The figure for Germany is significantly higher, at 61 per cent. It is presumed that Germany’s location in the middle of Europe and proximity to many other countries is responsible for the higher number of international trips planned.
Fewer business trips planned for 2021 – outdoor activities are becoming more popular
In addition to their private travel plans interviewees were asked about possible business trips. In contrast with private trips, the findings on business travel point to a downward trend. In Germany only 27 per cent, in the US 34 per cent and in China 51 per cent of respondents are planning business trips in 2021. This is also reflected in the answer to a question on long-term changes in travel behaviour. A high proportion in all cases, namely 65 per cent of Germans, 66 per cent of Americans and 63 per cent of Chinese interviewees agree with the statement “I will take fewer business trips.” Outdoor activities appear to be on the rise, with 61 per cent of Germans, 68 per cent of Americans and as many as 91 per cent of Chinese respondents agreeing with the statement “I will take more nature/outdoor trips.”