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The Death of Vacation Travel? Survey Shows Bad News for Travel Industry, Especially Internationally

·4 min read
narvikk / Getty Images
narvikk / Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic largely put a halt on travel in 2020, but many people still aren’t in a hurry to get out of town. Even those willing to travel aren’t spending phenomenal amounts of money, which can’t be good for the travel industry.

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GOBankingRates conducted a survey of 1,000 people — 500 who vacationed during the time period of July 2020 – July 2021 and 500 who did not. While 50.7% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated — as of Aug. 16, 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4% in July 2021, results revealed vacation travel isn’t a top priority.

Of those who haven’t vacationed, 52% have no plans to do so until 2022 or later. Of this group, 28% reported having no plans to enjoy a leisurely trip in the near future — 2022 included.

When they do finally travel again, 36.8% of respondents said they plan to spend $1,000 or less on their next vacation. Even worse for the travel industry, 14.4% revealed they expect to spend $500 or less.

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The biggest obstacle keeping people from traveling is cost, as 36.4% of those surveyed cited it as the top reason for staying home. A close second, 31.2% named a COVID-related reason — safety (12.8%), travel delays/restrictions/lack of availability (12.4%), vaccination status (6%) — as the main driver of their lack of vacation plans.

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Even if money and COVID weren’t an issue, 50% of respondents said they would stay in the U.S. — including those who cited Disney or another amusement park as their ideal vacation destination. This is interesting, because it shows half the population isn’t even planning hypothetical travel abroad.

Results revealed younger people are the ones driving travel right now. More than 64% of respondents over 65 years old are not planning on traveling in the near future, dropping just slightly to over 60% in the 55-to-64 age group.

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Of those who have vacationed, 41.2% of respondents revealed they spent $1,000 or less on their trip. Impressively thrifty, 16.8% said they spent $500 or less.

Unfortunately for the airline industry, more than half — 55.6% — of people traveled to their destination by car. Additionally, 30.20% of respondents were mainly inspired to take their trip because of historic flight (13.6%) and hotel (16.6%) discounts, which isn’t a sustainable model for the travel industry as a whole.

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A glimmer of hope for international travel, those who have vacationed were much more likely to choose a destination abroad — if money and COVID weren’t an issue. However, 35% of respondents still chose a U.S. destination — including Disney or another amusement park — as their top place to visit.

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Different Reports Offer Various Travel Outlooks

While the GOBankingRates survey painted a rather bleak picture for the travel industry — at least in the near future — the Q2 Expedia Media Solutions Recover Trend Report offered a notably better outlook.

Nearly three-quarters — 72% — of Americans are planning to travel in the next 12 months, according to the report. In the short-term, 66% will take at least one summer trip.

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One similar finding is a preference for domestic travel. In the next 12 months, 60% of consumers will travel within their home country, compared with just 27% with plans to travel internationally, according to the report.

Promising news for the airline industry, 58% of Americans would be comfortable flying in the next three months — including 39% who haven’t been in an airport since March 2020 — according to the report. Not surprisingly, younger people are the most eager group to hop on a plane, with 70% of Millennials and 63% of Gen Z ready to jet out of town. This supports GOBankingRates’ findings that younger people are much more willing to travel than those in the 55-plus age group.

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In June 2021, AAA also shared promising results for Independence Day travel — covering July 1-5. More than 47.5 Americans were slated to travel, making it the second-highest travel volume on record for the holiday weekend.

Aligning with GOBankingRates’ findings, 91% of people traveled to their destinations by car, according to AAA. Despite the heavy preference for road trips, air travel volumes reached 90% of pre-pandemic levels during this time period — a 164% increase from 2020.

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Of the top 10 destinations for the holiday weekend, nine were in the continental U.S. — Kahului, Hawaii held the tenth spot on the list. This heavy preference for domestic travel is on par with GOBankingRate’s findings. Notably, the top two cities on the list were Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California — home to Disney World and Disneyland, respectively.

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Only time will tell how quickly the travel industry will rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. Factors like the Delta variant and additional COVID-related restrictions put in place could discourage vacationers, so stay tuned to see how this plays out.

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Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 500 Americans aged 18 and older from across the country, asking six different questions: (1) How much did you spend on your last vacation?; (2) How did you travel for your last vacation?; (3) Where did you stay on your last vacation?; (4) How did you pay for your last vacation? (Select all that apply); (5) What was your biggest incentive to travel?; and (6) If money and COVID/health restrictions were no object where would you choose to go on vacation?. All respondents had to pass a screener question of: Have you taken a vacation in the past year (July 2020 – July 2021)?, with an answer of “Yes”. GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the poll.

GOBankingRates surveyed 500 Americans aged 18 and older from across the country, asking six different questions: (1) When are you planning to travel for your next vacation?; (2) How much will you spend on your next vacation?; (3) How will you travel ; (4) Where will you stay on your next vacation?; (5) What’s the current biggest obstacle to you going on vacation?; and (6) If money and COVID/health restrictions were no object where would you choose to go on vacation?. All respondents had to pass a screener question of: Have you taken a vacation in the past year (July 2020 – July 2021)?, with an answer of “No”. GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the poll.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The Death of Vacation Travel? Survey Shows Bad News for Travel Industry, Especially Internationally