Singapore emerges as world’s most vacation-deprived country

Singaporeans are longing for a return to travel more than anyone else in the world, with the country topping Expedia’s vacation deprivation rankings for the first time.

According to the latest edition of the annual study – which surveyed 9,200 consumers in 16 markets globally, including 300 in Singapore – vacation deprivation is on the rise in 10 out of the 16 markets surveyed across the globe. In particular, 71% of the respondents in Singapore and Italy said they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ vacation-deprived, making them the most vacation-deprived countries in the world, ahead of South Korea (70%), France (70%) and Malaysia (68%).

Some 71% of respondents in Singapore claim to be ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ vacation deprived, found Expedia study

For Singapore, this year’s finding marks a slight increase compared to the year before when 67% of Singaporeans said that they were vacation-deprived.

Of the Singaporeans surveyed, those aged 18-34 were found to be the most vacation-deprived group, with 85% identifying with vacation deprivation. This was followed by those in the 35-49 age range (68%), and those aged above 50 (51%). Interestingly, respondents who reside in the east of Singapore also appear to be more vacation-deprived (77%) than those residing in the west (69%).

“Singaporeans are some of the most avid travellers in the region, and when we consider the lack of options for inter-city travel within the country, it is of little surprise that they are the most vacation-deprived people globally this year. But they have adapted well while embracing the nationalistic spirit of rediscovering Singapore while supporting local tourism through staycations and local activities,” said Lavinia Rajaram, APAC head of communications, Brand Expedia.

According to the study, Singaporeans used five less vacation days in 2020 compared to the amount they would normally take in a typical year. Despite the average number of vacation days received remaining the same at 16 days annually in 2019 and 2020, Singaporeans only took an average of 10 vacation days in 2020, much lower than the 15 vacation days they would usually take in a year.

With the reduction in vacation days taken, Singaporeans also expressed a greater longing for the return to travel more than anyone else in the world. Some 90% of respondents in Singapore said that they now value vacations more than ever before, followed by 89% of South Koreans and 87% of Malaysians. In addition, 87% of Singaporeans believe that travel can help to create important memories and be one of the best things to come out of Covid-19.

Local employers have also been more accommodating of Singaporeans’ desire to travel. According to the study, 67% reported that their employees have been supportive of them taking vacation time, up from 60% in 2019 and 55% in 2018. As Singaporeans continue to look forward to the resumption of international travel in 2021, they are already planning to utilise 16 vacation days on average, six more than what they took in 2020.

To make up for missed travel time abroad, Singaporeans are also getting ready to fulfil their pent-up travel desires by splurging on vacations once it becomes safe to do so. Some 62% intend to spend more on their bucket list vacation than originally planned, while 67% said their travel bucket list budget for 2021 has increased because of the pandemic.

However, as enthusiastic as they may be about the return to travel, Singaporeans rank among the most cautious travellers in the world. Only 18% of Singaporeans have booked travel for 2021 – lower than the global average of 21%.

When asked about their approach to booking travel in 2021, 44% of Singapore respondents said that future travel planning will highly depend on the success of the Covid-19 vaccine – coming in only behind the Canadians, with 45% of them planning to do the same. In addition, 39% of Singapore respondents said they are waiting until the latter half of 2021 to travel, coming in only behind Hong Kong where 41% plan to do so.

In contrast, consumers in France, Germany, Japan and Thailand are much less concerned about travelling without a vaccine, with less than a quarter of the respondents highlighting the need to wait for a vaccine before they book travel.

There is no doubt that travel in the ‘new normal’ will require a significant mental and emotional shift. At the same time, travel booking behaviours have also evolved in response to the recent developments that have influenced their decision-making criteria.

Refundable travel options have become a pre-requisite for many travellers, with 33% of Singaporeans saying that they will only book travel that is fully refundable in case they don’t feel comfortable travelling. Some 21% of Singaporeans also said that they intend to book last-minute travel when they know that it is safe to do so, and 20% said they only plan to travel to places where they can remain socially distant from others.

Despite the cloudy climate, Singaporeans continue to show strong interest in travel. Searches for international destinations on have increased in recent months, with Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo, the Maldives, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Bali, London and Ho Chi Minh City making up the top destinations that Singaporeans are looking to travel to in 2021.

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