A new research paper by Tripadvisor has found that global vaccine rollouts are influencing rising demand for summer vacations, with vaccinated travellers more likely to stay longer and spend more on their trips than unvaccinated travellers.
The report, A Shot in The Arm for Travel? Examining the Vaccine’s Impact on Leisure Travel Demand, combines behavioural analysis of Tripadvisor’s first-party search data with consumer sentiment analysis gathered via traveller surveys in six major international markets including Singapore.
In countries like the US and the UK, where the vaccination rollout has reached large swathes of the adult population, eager travellers 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 travellers were driving the demand for leisure travel over the last few months, but heading into the summer the age demographic of travellers 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 organisations 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.”
Impact on accommodation
The vaccine has a significant impact on the demand for accommodation. Countries where the pace of the vaccination rollout is more advanced, like the US and the UK, are powering near-term growth in tourism demand, while a more muted recovery picture emerges across the Asia-Pacific region.
Half (51%) of US respondents plan on taking a summer vacation somewhere in the US, and nearly 22% plan on taking a summer vacation abroad. Search volumes across the country 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 UK, 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 travellers are a key driver of demand – when surveyed, 32% of vaccinated travellers globally said they had booked a domestic vacation, of whom 80% agreed that the vaccine had been a factor in their decision to book. By comparison, 19% of unvaccinated travellers had already booked a domestic trip.
Among those yet to be vaccinated, 48% of those planning a domestic trip are waiting to receive at least one dose of the vaccine before booking.
In Singapore, for instance, almost 70% of those planning a domestic trip are waiting to receive at least one dose of the vaccine before booking.
Impact on dining and experiences
Vaccine rollouts are also offering a boost to dining and experiences. In the first week of May 2021, weekly US 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 UK, France and Italy all experienced a spike in restaurant searches on Tripadvisor in April, with dining searches there outpacing traffic volumes at the same stage in 2020.
Prior to the heightened restrictions that started on May 16, weekly Singapore restaurant searches on Tripadvisor were steadily rising as locals were getting vaccinated and confidence levels were coming back.
Among vaccinated travellers surveyed globally, 41% said they feel more confident to dine indoors; 25% feel more confident to visit a museum; and 23% feel more confident to visit a theme park.
Impact on domestic tourism
Domestic tourism is dominating travel planning searches for the next few months, but for trips further out travellers are already actively planning international travel.
In the first week of May, Asia-Pacific travellers planning trips on Tripadvisor were overwhelmingly searching for domestic vacations. However, in the following months we see a steady shift of travellers looking to book more trips abroad. Eighty-five percent of June vacation searches in Asia-Pacific were for domestic trips, as well as 83% for trips in July and 79% looking to book a local getaway in August.
Looking ahead to the end of the year, only 60% of hotel searches in December are for domestic trips, while international hotel searches make up the rest.
Impact on destination choice
The urban tourism revival is in full swing, found the Tripadvisor research paper. City destinations are re-emerging as the trip of choice for vaccinated travellers.
Of those vaccinated travellers planning to vacation in 2021, nearly a third (32%) say they feel more confident about visiting an urban centre as a result of receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.
More than a third (35%) of vaccinated respondents in Singapore are planning a city vacation in 2021, compared to 22% who chose the socially-distanced outdoors. In fact, the top two most searched destinations in Singapore on Tripadvisor (based on site queries in the first week of May 2021) were for Hong Kong and Bangkok.
Impact on travel duration and spend
On average, vaccinated travellers plan to spend more and vacation longer than other travellers.
Globally, 22% of respondents plan to take a longer trip than they would have done pre-pandemic, rising to 30% of vaccinated respondents.
During the first week of May, 46% of all international accommodation searches on Tripadvisor were for stays lasting six days or more.
Globally, 35% of vaccinated travellers surveyed plan to spend more on their next trip compared to what they spent on travel prior to the pandemic, while only 20% of those yet to receive the vaccine plan to do so.
“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 traveller 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 traveller demand will come.”