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Post-pandemic domestic travel is top of mind for many Americans, but how are would-be travelers from other countries plotting their return?
The answer is more complex than one might think: Although the desire to travel is strong across the globe, new data presented by Brand USA (a U.S.-based DMO whose mission is to increase international visitation to the U.S.) shows that there are a variety of factors that contribute to the decision to travel again — and these attitudes shift from country to country.
In the organization’s May 15 webinar, Carroll Rheem, vice president of research and analytics for Brand USA, highlighted data collected from a variety of top inbound markets for the U.S., including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and the U.K. (Editor’s Note: Data presented in the webinar reflects an international market’s attitudes and intents to travel internationally, but not necessarily to the U.S. specifically.)
International Visits to the U.S. Are Projected to Decline 54% This Year.How soon can we expect international arrivals to flock to our shores? Assuming that borders begin to reopen in the second half of 2020, the U.S. inbound travel market will still be hard hit, experiencing a 54% decline in international arrivals this year. (However, Rheem believes this figure could reach up to 65-70%.)
The heaviest drop will be from Europeans, with 10.8 million fewer tourists arriving on U.S. soil in 2020 (a 68% drop from normal). They are followed by Asian and Canadian visitors, with 8.7 million fewer visitors expected; Mexico, with 8.1 million fewer visitors; and Latin America, with 5.5 million fewer visitors.
One silver lining? U.S. travelers may be able to offset some of this decline with domestic travel, which is likely to return in pockets this summer, according to Rheem.
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China Might Be the One Economy That Does Not Recede in 2020.When comparing world gross domestic product growth in countries in North America, Europe and Asia, China is the only market that is not projected to recede economically in 2020. And although 2021 is likely to see signs of economic recovery across the globe, there will be a permanent value loss of 1.7% moving forward. (Travel-related employment losses in the U.S. alone is predicted to hit up to 8.4% in the next few months.)
Travel Budgets May Remain the Same, but What They’ll Be Spent on Has Changed.Many respondents across the 11 countries report wanting to keep their travel spend the same over the next 12 months. However, those who are likely to tighten their purse strings will be making trade-offs on where they choose to spend their money.
Growth is going to be slow, fragile and local.
Travelers from China, India and Brazil say they will spend less on trip duration (opting for shorter trips), while visitors from the U.K. and Australia will cut back on food and dining expenses. Organized activities and tours will also take a hit, especially with Germans, Mexicans and Canadians.
Interestingly, of those reporting to spend more on travel in the next 12 months, priorities are also shifting. Travelers from the U.K. are likely to spend more on air tickets, which may manifest in seat upgrades to provide more space between passengers. Premium lodging and accommodations may also rise to the top of the wish list; travelers from Germany, Mexico and Japan will opt for upgraded digs, which could be related to a desire for enhanced hygiene and maintenance standards.
Men Will Return to Travel First.Although travel anxiety is elevated worldwide, it’s more pronounced in women, who tend to be more cautious and conservative when it comes to travel under normal circumstances, too.
This is the case across the board, although the gap between genders is wider in places such as Japan and Canada, and less pronounced in Australia and Germany.
Families With Children Are More Likely to Want to Travel in the Next 12 Months.The desire to travel from people who don’t have children in their households has dropped more dramatically than the desire to travel among households with children.
And, unsurprisingly, when it comes to age, younger travelers (18-34 years old) prove to be more resilient in their intents to return to travel, while the oldest group (55 or older) is the most hesitant. Two interesting cases are South Korea — in which the 35-44 age group shows the most apprehension to return to travel — and Japan, in which the 45-54 age group shows the most hesitation.
Some Markets Won’t Travel Again Until April 2021.The timeline for a return to travel varies across countries. Within Europe, there is an expectation that international travel may return more quickly (although perhaps in limited ways) due to the proximity of the countries. China expects a return to international trips in October 2020, which has historically been a peak season for that market. But many countries — including the U.K. and Australia — report not feeling comfortable enough to return to travel until April 2021.
“Growth is going to be slow, fragile and local,” Rheem said. “And on the international scale, we are going to have to wait until the roots are formed and travel is stable, and we have a strong and sturdy foundation to work with. It’s delicate. Getting the timing wrong and pushing things before they are ready doesn’t help. So, right now, we are watching and waiting and observing.”
The DetailsBrand USAwww.thebrandusa.com
Read more from TravelAge West about the COVID-19 outbreak.