MMGY Global: Omicron COVID Variant to Potentially Affect U.S. Travelers’ Decisions

Traveling on an airplane wearing a face mask

KANSAS CITY—MMGY Global’s latest survey of U.S. adults revealed that 45 percent of respondents who are familiar with the Omicron variant are less likely to travel in the next three months because of related concerns. Interestingly, unvaccinated travelers’ intentions appear to be far less impacted than those of the vaccinated. The survey found 39 percent of vaccinated adults familiar with Omicron say news of the variant has no impact on their likelihood to travel in the next three months, while the majority (71 percent) of those who are unvaccinated say this news does not impact their likelihood to travel.

As scientists learn more about how Omicron behaves, the next couple of weeks will be very important in determining how much of an impact this new variant is likely to have on travel plans. A significant percentage of U.S. travelers say it would have an effect on their likelihood to travel.

Forty-three percent say they would be significantly less likely to travel if scientists determine Omicron is more likely to result in hospitalizations. Thirty-four percent say they would be significantly less likely to travel if scientists determine Omicron is more resistant to current vaccines. And thirty-two percent say they would be significantly less likely to travel if scientists determine Omicron is more easily transmitted.

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Clayton Reid, CEO of MMGY Global, shared his perspective on how to interpret the data. “As we have seen with the Delta variant, traveler mentality can be affected by a perpetuated media and social narrative, but that effect can be fleeting and somewhat unreliable. While we see an expected apprehension among travelers as they first learn of Omicron, we also expect this to be replaced quickly with a bullish sentiment toward 2022 travel.”

The national survey, which was conducted among nearly 900 U.S. adults, also examined consumer sentiment related to health and safety measures that could prevent the spread of Omicron cases, and COVID-19 in general, throughout the United States.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans support President Biden’s decision to increase testing requirements for inbound international travelers to the United States. Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults believe airlines should require all passengers to be fully vaccinated in order to fly domestically, and 67 percent believe this requirement should be in place for international travelers.

This survey was conducted December 3–5, 2021, by MMGY Travel Intelligence, MMGY Global’s research and insights division.

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