US Travel Sentiment post-COVID-19

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US Travel Sentiment post-COVID-19

The impact of the COVID-19 impact of has affected U.S. local travel plans and spending for the remainder of 2020 in several aspects. A majority of Americans will now travel by car, a significant percentage having switched from flying to driving. Traveling distances overall will average around 700 miles; however, half of U.S. travelers who travel by car plan to travel less than 200 miles. Travel destinations include visiting friends and family, more traditional vacation destinations will include parks, campgrounds and other outdoor and remote destinations. Travelers planning to still travel by air were interested in popular big city vacation destinations such as Las Vegas and New York. These more modest travel plans are driven by a pullback in vacation spending; two-thirds of Americans intend to spend less than was originally budgeted prior to COVID-19, some by a significant percentage.

Means of Travel

  • A study in late April from Longwoods International of the travel plans for 1,000 U.S. adults indicated that 63% of respondents planned to travel by car in the next six months, while 23% planned to travel by plane. One quarter of respondents said they had changed their travel from air to automobile.
  • In the same study, one in ten survey participants had changed their travel from international to domestic.

Expected Travel Distance

  • A travel research firm study reported that Americans plan to travel almost 700 miles for their next vacation trip, with higher-income travelers planning even farther travel plans.
  • Of those planning to travel by car, survey participants split on distance traveled, with half planning to travel less than 200 miles and half planning to travel greater than 200 miles.

Anticipated Travel Destinations

  • In terms of types of travel, in the Longwoods study 42% of respondents reported that they plan to visit family/friends; one-third of respondents plan to visit "traditional" vacation locations.
  • After travel restrictions have been lifted, the top 3 destinations U.S. travelers would to travel to are beaches, small towns, and outdoor areas.
  • Travelers will trend to prefer remote travel locations such as campgrounds to continue social distancing practices; parks and other outdoor locations are favored for travel over more indoor congested areas.
  • Day trips are expected to rise in the next 3 months; museums and other attractions that can be visited in a day were mentioned as locations.
  • Denver and Las Vegas at this point seem to be two of the more popular summer vacation plans for U.S. travelers.
  • A survey from Dollar Flight Club indicated that the most popular destinations its members wanted to travel to in 2020 (once restrictions are lifted) were Alaska, Portland, San Diego, Los Angeles, Hawaii and New York.
  • An example of an open-air attraction that is seeing increased usage is the Civil War Trails, a walking and driving trail that winds through six states featuring historic Civil War checkpoints.

Vacation Spending Pre and Post COVID-19

  • Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. traveler spent an average of approximately $2,000 on travel per year.
  • Travel spending is being cut back due to COVID-19; only about one-third of Americans plan to spend as much on travel as before COVID-19, one-third of travelers will cut back from their original budgets from 1-40% and one-third plan to cut up to more than 40% of spending.
  • Although travelers are interested in more low-cost travel options due to the economic effects of the pandemic, only 3 in 10 of U.S. travelers would be very likely to travel if offered a travel deal (air, hotel, etc), with younger customers slightly more willing to travel in respond to deals.
  • Factors that will go into whether U.S. consumers resume traveling in 2020 include whether hotels and eating places will be open as well as attraction and activities being open to enjoy

Research Strategy

A variety of research studies recently conducted on travel impact from COVID-19 were cited, along with travel-oriented news sources and state tourist websites.
Sources
Sources

Quotes
  • "Changed destination to one I can drive to as opposed to fly - 25%"
  • "Travel by car to see friends and relatives within 200 miles - 20% Travel by car to see friends and relatives more than 200 miles - 19% Travel by plane to see friends and relatives within the U.S. - 13% Travel by car for a vacation/getaway within 200 miles (not to see friends/relatives) - 12% Travel by car for a vacation/getaway more than 200 miles (not to see friends/relatives) - 12% Travel by plane for a vacation/getaway (not to see friends/relatives) in the U.S - 10%"
  • "Changed trip from international to domestic - 12% "
Quotes
  • " The average distance of American travelers’ next leisure trip is 686 miles overall, with Baby Boomers and travelers in the West and South reporting trip averages over 700 miles, and affluent travelers reporting nearly 800 miles"
Quotes
  • "For example, travelers will be wary of public transportation and plane travel, choosing to drive via their own cars to explore nearby destinations,” said Lisa Burns, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council. “We also predict there will be a larger emphasis on outdoor, open-air attractions and destinations as social distancing phases out slowly.”"
  • "“Even if the government gives the green light before summer, many will be reticent to travel and will choose remote, domestic locations like campgrounds over densely populated areas, certainly avoiding transport hubs like international airports.” Yates pointed out, “We also anticipate an increased interest in low-cost travel given the economic impact Coronavirus has inflicted on so many.”"
Quotes
  • "Now only 35% of participants say they are sticking to the same travel budget for 2020 that they started with before the coronavirus hit: 31% will reduce their holiday expenses up to 40%, while 34% of respondents say they will cut their budgets by more than 40%, this being a 8% drop from the results 3 weeks ago, perhaps signifying further tightening of the belt."
  • " However 32% replied that they would now attempt to avoid big cities and public transportation and instead focus on parks and the outdoors."
Quotes
  • "While there’s little consistency in the top destinations for domestic summer travel, Denver is at or near the top for July 4th and the 1st and 2nd half of August, while Las Vegas is solidly at the top of the list for Labor Day (up nearly two-fold over last year.)"
Quotes
  • " Somewhere in nature and small towns had small increases within 1 month. Beach destinations had small decreases in both 1 month and 1-3 months. Theme parks have decreased even further in the 1-3 months, going from 14% to 12%."
Quotes
  • "The Civil War Trails — a system of open-air walking and driving tours that take visitors through the sites of historic moments of the Civil War — have seen an increase in interest since the beginning of social distancing measures. Civil War Trails are currently in six states, and provide a tourist attraction for numerous municipalities."
Quotes
  • "More Americans report being ready to resume day out activities in the next three months. Going on a day out to a visitor attraction or a museum both increased by more than twenty percent in late April. Visitor expectations for museums to act on before returning is the availability of sanitizing hand gel, enhanced cleaning of public areas and reduced maximum visitor capacity"