NEEDHAM, Massachusetts—A new travel trends research paper by Tripadvisor reveals that vaccine rollouts globally are driving an increasing demand for summer vacations, with vaccinated travelers more likely to stay longer and spend more on their trips than unvaccinated travelers.
The report, entitled “A Shot in The Arm for Travel? Examining the Vaccine’s Impact on Leisure Travel Demand,” provides insight into emerging travel planning trends around the world by combining behavioral analysis of Tripadvisor’s first-party search data—revealing the type of trips travelers are actively researching on Tripadvisor—with consumer sentiment analysis gathered via traveler surveys in six major international markets, exploring the latest in traveler attitudes and confidence.
The report identifies behavioral differences in how vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers are thinking about travel and how that is translating into travel planning behaviors on the Tripadvisor platform, with vaccinated travelers more likely to be booking vacations already, planning to stay longer, and spend more when they travel.
In regions like the United States. and the United Kingdom, where the vaccination rollout has reached large swathes of the adult population, eager travelers are pushing the tourism recovery forward. At the other end of the spectrum, countries where the vaccine rollout is at a less advanced stage and new variants of COVID-19 have impacted local populations—particularly across the Asia-Pacific region—are experiencing a slower recovery in leisure travel demand.
“Higher income millennial travelers were driving the demand for leisure travel this past spring, but heading into the summer, the age demographic of travelers now booking up vacations has broadened significantly, at least in countries where large populations have been vaccinated,” said Stephen Kaufer, CEO and co-founder, Tripadvisor, Inc. “If ever we needed proof that vaccines are the key to long-term recovery in the tourism sector, our latest trend data provides it. Now the focus must be on governments and international organizations to ensure vaccines reach every part of the world as quickly as possible and make it as easy as possible for vaccinated tourists to travel globally once again.”
Key findings from the report include:
- The vaccine has a significant impact on the demand for accommodations. Regions where the pace of the vaccination rollout is more advanced, like the United States and the United Kingdom, are powering near-term growth in tourism demand, while a more muted recovery picture emerges across the Asia-Pacific region. Half (51 percent) of U.S. respondents plan on taking a summer vacation in the United States, and nearly a quarter (22 percent) plan on taking a summer vacation abroad.
- U.S. weekly hotel search volumes continue to mirror sentiment trends. In the first week of May 2021, hotel searches were at a higher level than at any stage since the start of the pandemic. Elsewhere, since the turn of the year, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France have all seen significant growth in hotel search traffic on Tripadvisor, while in Australia—which is heading into its winter months —the recovery in search traffic has been largely flat.
- Vaccinated travelers are a key driver of demand—when surveyed, a third (32 percent) of vaccinated travelers globally said they had booked a domestic vacation, of whom 80 percent agreed that the vaccine had been a factor in their decision to book. By comparison, less than a fifth (19 percent) of unvaccinated travelers had already booked a domestic trip.
- Among those yet to be vaccinated, nearly half (48 percent) of those planning a domestic trip are waiting to receive at least one dose of the vaccine before booking.
Vaccine rollouts are also offering a boost to dining and experiences:
- In the first week of May 2021, weekly U.S. restaurant searches on Tripadvisor were at a higher volume than at any stage since the pandemic began, and experience searches were already close to last year’s summer peak.
- The United Kingdom, France, and Italy all experienced an upwards spike in restaurant searches on Tripadvisor in April, with dining searches there outpacing traffic volumes at the same stage in 2020.
Among vaccinated travelers surveyed globally, 41 percent said they feel more confident to dine indoors, 25 percent feel more confident to visit a museum, and 23 percent feel more confident to visit a theme park.
Domestic tourism is dominating travel planning searches for the peak season ahead, but for trips further out, travelers are already actively planning international travel:
- In the first week of May 2021, travelers planning summer vacations on Tripadvisor were overwhelmingly searching for domestic vacations—75 percent of June vacation searches globally were for domestic destinations, as well as 67 percent of searches for July trips and 62 percent of those looking to get away in August.
- However, for trips planned later in the year, international hotel searches on Tripadvisor made up the majority of trips planned from November 2021 onwards.
Urban tourism is reviving. City destinations are re-emerging as the trip of choice for vaccinated travelers:
- Of those vaccinated travelers planning to vacation in 2021, nearly a third (32 percent) say they feel more confident about visiting an urban center as a result of receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.
More than a third (35 percent) of vaccinated respondents in the United States are planning a city vacation in 2021, compared to less than a quarter (24 percent) of unvaccinated U.S. respondents. In fact, the top five most searched destinations in the United States on Tripadvisor (based on site queries in the first week of May 2021) included markets like New York City, Orlando, and Las Vegas.
On average, vaccinated travelers plan to spend more and vacation longer than other travelers:
- Globally, 22 percent of respondents plan to take a longer trip than they would have pre-pandemic, rising to nearly a third (30 percent) of vaccinated respondents.
- During the first week of May, nearly half (46 percent) of all international accommodation searches on Tripadvisor were for stays lasting six days or more.
- Globally, more than a third (35 percent) of vaccinated travelers surveyed plan to spend more on their next trip compared to what they spent on travel prior to the pandemic, while only a fifth (20 percent) of those yet to receive the vaccine plan to do so.
- In the United States overall, 40 percent of travelers surveyed say they plan to spend more on their next trip.
“After such a turbulent year, many in tourism are hopeful that a busy summer will provide a much-needed boost to the tourism industry, so it’s welcome news to see the latest traveler data pointing in that direction, especially for destinations and hospitality businesses that are able to capture the growing demand for domestic vacations,” said Christopher Hsi, head of market research, Tripadvisor. “What offers even greater hope for a long-term recovery is the impact the vaccine is having not just on people’s confidence to travel, but also their willingness to turn planning into bookings. As more and more countries make progress on the rollout of the vaccine, and the positive impact that should have on the re-opening of international borders, there is every reason to expect further growth in traveler demand will come.”