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COVID-19 Impacts on Travel Habits: New Study of 1045 U.S. Travelers

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

[Editor’s Note: We came across this study which surveyed 1045 U.S. travelers (55%+ were millennials) about their behaviors and attitude towards travel amid COVID-19. Some of the results were surprising, yet encouraging, and we thought others would be interested to see the results as well. Here’s a snapshot of some of the more surprising results:

  • 58.6% of the participants confirmed they did book tickets amid COVID-19
  • 69.2% stated that they are encouraged to consider traveling in the upcoming months of 2020 because of discounting/price drops
  • 76.7% will continue to prefer traveling physically rather than virtually as they believe that virtual travel will never be as awesome as being there physically

Related to this, we also wrote an article titled Business Travel After COVID-19 which covered 5 things to take into consideration for employers, business travelers, and the travel industry. Enjoy.]

As of May 26, 2020, the total number of coronavirus cases reached over 5.5 million worldwide, with the U.S. being the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, representing 1.7 million of the total number of COVID-19 cases.

Since it first emerged in Wuhan, China last December 2019, countries implemented total partial or complete lockdown and travel restrictions which made a huge dent in the travel industry. The damage is so huge that it was estimated by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) that there will be over 100 million job losses in the travel and tourism sector.

Moreover, the 2020 tourism industry revenue is restated to 447 million U.S. dollars, down from the original 2020 forecast, which is 711 million U.S. dollars. In 2019, the travel tourism industry revenue earned 685 million U.S. dollars in revenue.

It’s been over 5 months now, so how are the US travelers holding up? We conducted a survey involving 1,045 US frequent travelers to see the impact COVID-19 has on travel habits.

Demographics

We specifically asked our survey participants to indicate their age so we can see which generation travelers belong to.

Major Takeaways:

Demographics Survey of 1045 US Travelers
  1. It was found that 578 (55.3%) of the survey takers were Millennials, those aged between 24-37 years old. This is followed by 276 (26.4%) of Gen X, people aged between 38-56 years old.
  2. 116 (11.1%) of the survey takers were Gen Z or those aged younger, between 16-23 years old while there are only 75 (7.2%) of Baby Boomers or those aged between 57-64 years old.

Do you have travel plans that were canceled due to COVID-19 in the first quarter of 2020?

Major Takeaways:

  1. According to 905 (86.6%) of the survey participants (more than 50% were Millennials), they did have travel plans set in Q1 of 2020 but were canceled because of the coronavirus.
  2. Only 140 (13.4%) of the survey participants had travel plans set in Q1 of 2020 that were not canceled because of the COVID-19.

Do you have travel plans in the upcoming months of 2020?

Major Takeaways:

  1. US citizens take 93 million international outbound trips each year. After the outbreak, 802 (76.7%) of our survey takers confirmed they have travel plans in the upcoming months of 2020.
  2. 243 (23.3%of survey takers have no other travel plans in the upcoming months of 2020.

Have you booked any tickets for traveling in the upcoming months of 2020?

Major Takeaways:

  1. 612 (58.6%) of the survey participants confirmed they did book any tickets for traveling in the upcoming months of 2020.
  2. Almost half or 433 (41.4%) of the participants didn’t book any more tickets for traveling in the following months of 2020.

Amid COVID-19, will deals and discounts on traveling such as plane tickets and hotels encourage you to travel in the upcoming months of 2020?

Major Takeaways:

  1. Airfare sales have dropped significantly since the outbreak. Due to the drop in demand, airline companies had to make a move fast. This is why you’ll notice that there’s an average of 14% drop in US airfares since the first week of March.
  2. Even though people are highly advised to stay at home, 723 (69.2%) of the participants stated that they are encouraged to consider traveling in the upcoming months of 2020 because of these price drops while 322 (30.8%) aren’t encouraged at all.

Amid COVID-19, why are you still thinking of traveling?

Major Takeaways:

  1. Even though most of the countries worldwide are on either partial or full lockdown, there are still people who choose to travel despite the serious threat. According to 434 (41.5%) of the participants, they travel so they can visit their loved ones/family.
  2. While 228 (21.8%) of the survey participants do so for work/study purposes332 (31.8%) travel for their hobby as an adventurer despite the serious threat of catching the virus.
  3. Only about 50 (4.8%) travel for other reasons.

Are you willing to follow strict safety protection/protocol while traveling amid COVID-19?

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the thought of traveling seems impossible to happen anytime soon. But earlier in May 2020, Australia announced a three-stage plan to reopen its economy, including tourism, which could be a travel recovery model for other countries.

Are people willing to follow strict protocols/protection while traveling amid the COVID-19 outbreak these days?

Major Takeaways:

  1. According to 1000 (95.7%) of the survey takers, they would follow and take precautionary measures to keep themselves safe while traveling by putting on face masks, practice social distancing, washing hands and using hand sanitizers regularly.
  2. The remaining 45 (4.3%) just don’t care at all and would take zero precautionary measures while traveling amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Will you adjust your travel budget after COVID-19?

By the end of March 2020, over 3 million unemployment claims were filed. This means the budget will have to be cut deeply to still be able to travel and keep up with the essentials amid the global pandemic.

Major Takeaways:

  1. But according to 374 (35.8%) of survey participants, they are not going to make any adjustments and just keep it the same.
  2. Only 110 (10.5%) of survey participants will increase their travel budget after COVID-19  compared to 561 (53.7%) of the survey participants that will tighten their budget instead after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Do you think travel bans/restrictions will help with the attempt of stopping the spread of Coronavirus?

Major Takeaways:

  1. Survey participants were asked if travel bans or restrictions will help limit or stop the spread of coronavirus and according to 145 (13.9%) of survey participants, these won’t help and do not make sense to them.
  2. Most of the survey-takers (77.9%) agree that this will help as long as people follow the rules while 8.2% of them are neutral about this statement.

After COVID-19, will you prefer virtual travel over physical travel?

According to the World Economic Forum, “We will travel again, but it will not be the same”. So we asked our participants which type of travel platform would they prefer after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major Takeaways:

  1. While 189 (18.1%) of the survey participants preferred virtual travel because it’s more budget-friendly than having to physically travel, 802 or 76.7% would rather travel physically as they believe that virtual travel will never be as awesome as being there physically.
  2. Only 117 (11.2%) of them said they would prefer virtual travel because it’s convenient.

Methodology and Limitations

To ensure that the above-mentioned data is only from frequent travelers in the U.S., we launched a survey on MTurk and set the qualifications to only U.S. citizens that travel frequently.

We also included attention-check questions somewhere in the survey to ensure our participants are not just answering the survey questions randomly.

Also, the survey’s results do not, in any form and way, reflect the opinions of our editors and writers.

COVID-19 Impacts on Travel Habits: New Study of 1045 U.S. Travelers
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