The year travel rebounds? There is increasing consumer confidence for international travel, particularly in the second half of the year, but COVID continues to confuse the reality

A new research report on shifting traveller trends and what impact the ongoing pandemic has had on traveller trip planning habits has been released by Tripadvisor, revealing increased intent in international travel and dining behaviours in 2021.

The report, entitled ‘The Year of the Travel Rebound: 5 Traveler Trends to Watch Out for in 2021’, analysed first party search data as well as traveller sentiment across six major markets (the United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Japan and Singapore), through a 2,300+ consumer survey with Qualtrics, conducted across late Dec-2020 and early Jan-2021.

This was supported by site behavioural data sourced from first party traffic data on the Tripadvisor platform, gathered during the first week of Jan-2021. Together they identified consumers’ increasing confidence that they will travel abroad in 2021, particularly in the second half of the year.

In fact, globally, the majority of hotel clicks on Tripadvisor are already shifting to international destinations for May-2021 trips onwards (as opposed to domestic destinations, which dominated 2020), according to the travel platform.

The five travel trends identified in the report are that…

  • Travellers are planning to travel abroad in the second half of the year, but won’t wait to make plans;
  • Vaccinations will be a game-changer for traveller confidence;
  • Domestic travel remains high on the wish list for 2021;
  • The joy of travel planning will be stronger than ever as consumers spend more time researching trips;
  • Consumers can’t wait to dine out again, but their taste for takeout will still endure.

Nearly half (47%) of travellers surveyed globally said they are planning to travel internationally in 2021, including 45% of US travellers. In fact, one in ten (11%) global respondents have already booked an international trip for 2021, including 14% of respondents in the US.  The most eager to venture abroad are German and UK travellers – in the first week of January, 85% of hotel clickers on Tripadvisor in either country were planning international breaks for later this year.

The widespread roll-out of vaccines is a major fillip that won’t just impact travellers’ confidence to travel, but will have a major influence on where leisure travellers are prepared to go too. Globally, more than three quarters (77%) of travelers surveyed said they would be more likely to travel internationally if they receive the vaccine, rising to 86% for travel domestically. In the US, those numbers change to 69% and 80% respectively.

More than a quarter (26%) of respondents globally said that they would only travel to destinations that required visitors to be vaccinated before travel, with Australian (32%) and US (30%) travellers the most likely to expect destinations to adopt this safety measure.

While international tourism looks to be getting a boost this year following a shutdown for much of 2020, domestic travel isn’t necessarily going to take a back seat in 2021. In the first week of Jan-2021, nearly 70% of hotel clickers on Tripadvisor were booking future domestic trips, its data illustrates, while further out, the May-2021 through August-2021 window is still proving the most popular period for domestic vacations.

Globally, approaching three quarters (74%) of travellers surveyed plan to take at least one overnight domestic leisure trip in 2021 – reaching 80% in the US. In the US, just over a third of respondents (34%) said they are planning at least three domestic trips this year, compared to 31% of Australians surveyed and 24% of British travellers.

With most travel plans dashed in 2020, there is huge pent up leisure demand, so travellers are extra conscious of getting it just right, identifies Tripadvisor. Three quarters (74%) of travellers surveyed globally said they will spend more time choosing a destination this year, including two thirds (65%) of travellers in the US. A similar level of travellers in the US (64%) said they will spend more time reading reviews and will spend more time selecting their accommodation (63%), while 70% said they will spend more time finding things to do.

As in-person dining was restricted in many countries throughout 2020, the success of takeout and delivery services soared, as consumers sought to satisfy their appetite. But encouragingly for the hospitality industry, in-person dining’s rebound in 2021 doesn’t mean a decline in takeout and delivery demand, according to the Tripadvisor findings. Nearly half (47%) of respondents globally said they plan to dine in-person at restaurants more often in 2021 than they did in 2020 and a quarter of respondents (27%) say they plan to order more takeout meals this year.

The findings offer encouragement to the ailing travel and tourism sector. But, many countries around the world are still grappling with high infection rates of COVID-19 as coronavirus mutations appear to make it even more virulent. While this feeling of optimism towards travel may not reduce, government-imposed mobility restrictions and quarantine and isolation requirements will remain a major barrier until vaccination programmes become more widespread.

We use cookies and other web technologies to collect anonymous data about the usage of this website so that we can better serve your needs. If you'd like more information on this data please see our Privacy Settings. By clicking "I Agree" below, you are agreeing to allow us to collect additional usage data.