Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of November 29th

The outlook for travel in 2022 is shaping up in a promising way, with more trips overall and to a more diverse set of destinations. The near-term outlook is also positive, although current COVID and financial concerns will need to be assuaged.

IMPORTANT: These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. Every week since March 15, 2020, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel—specifically in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic—and explored a variety of topics. The key findings presented below represent data collected November 24th-26th.

Key Findings to Know:

Travel’s outlook for 2022 looks promising. As shown in the infographic below, when Americans were asked to describe their travel in 2022, top choices include “hopeful,” “excited,” “fun” and “more.” In fact, 33.2% of American travelers say they will take more leisure trips in the next year and the same proportion (33.4%) say they will spend more money on their leisure travel in 2022. The average reported leisure travel budget for 2022 is currently $3,797. Beaches, rural towns and national/state parks destinations will still be where a majority of American travelers head, with more than 70% reporting plans for these types of destinations. Meanwhile, 66.2% of travelers currently say they plan to visit cities, although 29.3% report that they will increase their urban travel in 2022. When asked to list the domestic destinations they most want to visit in 2022, Florida, New York, Las Vegas, California, Hawaii and Texas are top among American travelers as they look forward to 2022. However, domestic destinations will face more competition again as 23.6% say they will increase their international travel in 2022. American travelers also look to continue to take trips to make up for time missed out on with loved ones during the pandemic: 39.2% say they will increase their family travel in 2022 and 32.8% will increase their travel with friends.

The near-term outlook for travel is also favorable, although growing COVID and financial concerns are weighing factors. The average American traveler reports they will take 2.4 overnight trips in the next 3 months, and 80.3% have travel plans right now. Over 70% of American travelers did some travel dreaming or planning in the past week alone, particularly discussing potential or upcoming trips with others. However, the number of American travelers feeling that COVID-19 will be with us for the long-term is rising (up to 63.9% this week from 61.7% the week of November 15th), as is the number anticipating that the U.S. will face another significant wave of COVID-19 (up 2 percentage points this week to 55.8%). Optimism about the course the pandemic will take in the U.S. over the next month has dropped nearly 12 percentage points in the last two weeks (26.9%), while pessimism has grown 10 percentage points, so that now one-third expect the situation to get worse soon. When asked what is deterring them from traveling more this Winter, COVID-19-related concerns were chief among American travelers. Financial concerns are also weighing more heavily on travelers’ minds. Gas prices, concerns that travel is too expensive right now, and personal financial reasons are all among the top 5 issues deterring Americans from traveling more right now. Nevertheless, travel remains a bright spot for many–64.9% of Americans said that they would be “happy” or “very happy” to receive a travel-related gift for the holidays.

Follow us on social for infographics of these and other key findings. You can also download recent infographics here. Need assets for a presentation or something else? Find all the presentation decks from our ongoing traveler research here—new decks posted on Tuesday afternoon. And please join us Tuesdays at 11:00am EST for a live presentation of the latest insights into traveler perceptions and behaviors.

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Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of November 15th

Amidst a pandemic-era near record high in resident sentiment towards local tourism, last week’s reopening of the U.S. borders to international travelers was welcome news to the majority of American travelers—many of whom may be now inspired to venture abroad themselves. Meanwhile it looks to be a busy Thanksgiving travel week—likely one that exceeds even 2019 levels.

IMPORTANT: These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. Every week since March 15, 2020, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel—specifically in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic—and explored a variety of topics. The key findings presented below represent data collected November 10-12.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Amidst a near pandemic-era record high in resident sentiment towards local tourism, last week’s reopening of the U.S. borders to vaccinated (and COVID-tested) international travelers was welcome news to Americans. When asked about the lifting of international travel restrictions at this point in time, the majority of American travelers (53.8%) said that it was good or very good news. However, this development was relatively more positively received amongst travelers in the West (62.1%); meanwhile those in the Midwest demonstrated the comparatively lowest enthusiasm (47.4%). The reopening of the border is likely inspiring more Americans to venture abroad themselves—those that said they were avoiding international travel hit a record low 55.3%.
  • In more good news for the travel industry, the Thanksgiving holiday looks to be a busy one—possibly even exceeding 2019 travel levels. The percent of American travelers who say they plan to travel over the Thanksgiving Holiday has more than doubled compared to 2020—30.6% currently say they will versus 12.9% last year. This rate is even higher than in 2019, when 23.1% of American travelers reported taking a Thanksgiving holiday trip. As expected, COVID does remain a travel impediment, with 17.2% saying they have cancelled a Thanksgiving trip this year due to the ongoing pandemic (although this is down from 31.7% in 2020). Nevertheless, the enthusiasm for Thanksgiving travel this year is likely helped by high vaccination rates among travelers and their confidence in these vaccines’ ability to protect them against the virus (78.2% report being vaccinated, 63.2% feel firmly confident in their vaccine’s protection). In addition, taking a road trip, visiting friends and family, and shopping enjoy strong safety perceptions among travelers.
  • American travelers’ sense of normalcy has dropped slightly, but there has been a modest gain in optimism about COVID’s long-term status. Americans’ sense of normalcy around leisure activities has dropped 2 percentage points over the past two weeks. Now 29.6% of American travelers feel that the U.S. is “normal” or “close to normal,” down from 31.3%.” just two weeks ago. Despite the dip in American travelers’ sense of normalcy right now, fewer feel that COVID-19 will be with us in the longer term. In fact, 61.7% feel that the COVID-19 situation will remain with us at least for the next several years, compared to 65.9% the week of November 1st.
  • Unfortunately, a majority of Americans (53.8%) do feel that the U.S. will face another significant wave of COVID-19 in the short-term (i.e., at some point in the next three months). This feeling is strongest amongst Gen Xers (58.0%) and those residing in the Midwest (57.1%). This has started to erode the positive gains made in expectations for the COVID situation in the near-term, with more Americans now saying they expect things to get worse in the next month (23.3% up from 20.4% the week of November 1st).
  • These near-term expectations about the pandemic are contributing to nearly three-quarters of American travelers saying it’s important the destinations they visit continue to maintain careful COVID-19 safety protocols. While this feeling is even stronger amongst older travelers (76.9%), 68.4% of Millennials or younger travelers also deem public pandemic safety measures important in where they choose to travel.
  • American travelers are split on their comfortability with seeing maskless people in travel advertisements. While 30.0% are comfortable with this, 36.5% are uncomfortable, while 33.5% are neutral. Large crowds of people in travel ads are likely to draw more scrutiny though. While 21.0% of Americans are comfortable seeing large groups of people in travel ads now, 42.4% would be uncomfortable (36.6% are neutral).
  • Follow us on social for infographics of these and other key findings. You can also download recent infographics here. Need assets for a presentation or something else? Find all the presentation decks from our ongoing traveler research here—new decks posted on Tuesday afternoon. And please join us Tuesdays at 11:00am EST for a live presentation of the latest insights into traveler perceptions and behaviors.

    The Destination Analysts team wishes you a safe and fun Thanksgiving holiday. We are so grateful for you and all our many clients and friends in the travel industry!

    We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers.

    To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.

    Have a question idea or topic you would like to suggest we study? Let us know!

    We can help you with the insights your tourism strategy needs, from audience analysis to brand health to economic impact. Please check out our services here.