Currently, the global tourism industry has recorded positive signs of recovery and is aiming to restore domestic and international tourism back to pre-pandemic levels. To get a solid foundation for this, Tripadvisor has conducted a survey and reported the changes in traveler sentiment as well as travel trends in the current period.
According to Tripadvisor’s special report entitled “Beyond COVID-19: The Road to Recovery for the Travel Industry” in June 2020, the recovery process is divided into 5 phases: (1) Decline: sudden drop in demand caused by government restrictions and lockdown, (2) Plateau: the bottoming-out of traveler demand, (3) Emerge: early signs of recovery as traveler demand steadily increases, (4) Domestic: domestic travel rebounds to 2019 levels, and (5) International: international travel rebounds to 2019 levels.
Generally, the global tourism industry is in the midst of phase 3 and phase 4, which means it has already seen signs of recovery and is in the process of restoring domestic tourism to pre-pandemic levels. Therefore, in order to quickly complete phase 4 and phase 5, DMOs as well as travel enterprises need to grasp tourist sentiment and travel trends in the present. This October, Tripadvisor conducted a survey and took a look back at all statistics from the beginning of the year to compare and give an overview landscape of the current tourism industry.
Health and safety are still the top priorities
Compared to April, the climax of the pandemic, the percentage of travelers who chose health and safety as their top priority in October barely changed, especially in Italy and Singapore, where health and safety remains at 73% and 77% of the visitor’s priority respectively. In the majority of other countries, this rate only decreases slightly as the priority of health and safety decreases from 80% to 76% and 74% respectively in the U.S. and the U.K. while in Australia, it decreases by 6% (from 71% down to 65%) and in Japan, it decreases by 9% (from 87% down to 78%).
According to Tripadvisor’s statistics, businesses using the platform’s Travel Safe feature reported a 16% increase in user interaction compared to those that did not. For that reason, F&B and lodging services need to improve their hygiene measures, increase communication to update traveler demand so that they can quickly adjust the policies and attract guests.
Travelers are more likely to choose outdoor trips/destinations
65% of travelers said they would choose less crowded destinations and attractions compared to the choices before the pandemic to travel to. Besides, more than half of the respondents (52%) said that they would prioritize outdoor or nature trips.
Specifically, according to the statistics about search results on Tripadvisor in October, properties categorized as “quaint” or “romantic” are sought by more than half of tourists. On the other hand, properties that are “centrally located” are becoming less common at a below-average rate.
Besides hotel search, Tripadvisor also provides guests with data on hotel amenities or activities during the trip by filter searches. As a result, “hiking” is much more sought by travelers than other activities and amenities.
An increase in the rate of last-minute planning
In October, nearly two-thirds of travelers (62%) started searching for properties on Tripadvisor within 1 month of check-in, which outstands about 5 times the number of travelers who started planning for the trip less than 90 days out. Contradictorily, in April, more than half of travelers started searching for hotels or other types of accommodations 3 months prior to their scheduled check-in. This can be explained as during the climax of the pandemic (which was April) with most trips being postponed, travelers had no choice but to find a way to reschedule their trip, and July-August then was a relatively safe time for this.
However, last-minute planning does not necessarily mean that their decision to take the trip would be made spontaneously. Instead, travelers are gradually turning to planning more enthusiastically and diligently than they did before as the frequency of their searches for the same keywords in 1 month was much greater than that of the trips they planned 3 months prior to the departure.
Traveler confidence in the next three months is still at an uncertain level. Except for nearly half of respondents in the US (48%) who feel confident in traveling safely in the next 3 months, travelers in the Asia-Pacific region still do not feel really safe with only 25% of travelers in Australia and 26% of Singaporean travelers feel more confident traveling in the next 3 months. For Japan, the number of travelers who find confidence in travel is even lower (16%); the U.K. and Italy also have relatively low percentages, with respectively 13% and 12% of the respondents are ready to go back to travel.
However, traveler demand is still very high as 65% of respondents said they are already thinking about their next destination and 61% of respondents look forward to the upcoming holiday season. This demonstrates that tourism demand will rapidly explode once the pandemic is under control, which means businesses in tourism and travel need to prepare their own strategies for the coming period based on these trends.
*Statistics in the article are cited from 2020: A Year in Travel – Charting the Travel Industry’s Path to Recovery, Tripadvisor