As Americans feel the country is more than halfway back to normalcy, positive sentiment towards travel reached new pandemic-era peaks. And while vaccine passports are being debated in the political realm, it appears that, particularly for certain activities, an important proportion of American travelers is in favor of proof-of-vaccination policies.
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 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and explored a variety of topics. The findings presented below represent data collected April 2nd-4th.
Key Findings to Know:
In the last week, despite record vaccination rates, new coronavirus cases were on the rise again in the United States, and health and political officials implored pandemic vigilance to continue. When asked the likelihood that the U.S. will experience another COVID surge in 2021, 53.8% of American travelers said that this was indeed likely—an anticipation strongest in the Midwest and among older travelers. Yet while the majority expects another surge to occur, they don’t appear to believe it will necessarily impact themselves. Anxiety about contracting coronavirus—as well as the pandemic’s financial impact—is down. On average, American travelers believe the United States is 52.6% back to normalcy right now. Nearly half believe their life will be back to “normal” by September.
Meanwhile, excitement about travel is firmly up. Compared to last April, it is clear Americans feel very differently, particularly as it relates to travel’s safety. Average perceptions of travel and leisure activities as unsafe has declined 30 percentage points in the last year. Travel avoidance—including in general, internationally and for conventions/conferences—reached record lows this week. The proportion of Americans confident in their ability to travel safely right now outpaces the proportion that lacks confidence. Americans who have lost their taste for traveling for the time being—something we began tracking regularly during the last coronavirus surge—has plunged to a low of 33.3%. For the first time ever recorded in our study, the proportion of Americans that would NOT feel guilty traveling (41.6%) surpassed those that would (36.2%). This week also marks another record for travel readiness, with 69.3% saying “ready” is what describes their state-of-mind.
About two-thirds of Americans are highly open to travel inspiration right now and the number of Americans actively dreaming about and planning travel reached a 2021 peak at 77.7%. Well over one-third day-dreamt about travel and/or discussed a future trip with someone in the last week alone. A 2021 record 33.6% researched travel ideas online in the last week, while another record 17.8% made travel reservations or bookings. Among those that made a travel booking or reservation in the last week, 57.5% report they booked a hotel room and 34.6% say they bought airline tickets.
In terms of when Americans will go traveling, nearly 60% say they will take a trip within the next three months. July continues to strengthen as a peak month for travel, as now one-third of American travelers report at least tentative trip plans for that month. Travel also looks to continue this Fall—nearly a quarter of American travelers say they have trips planned for September and about 22% have at least tentative plans in October.
This growing positivity towards travel overall extends to how Americans feel about tourism in their own communities. This week, nearly 54% say they are comfortable going out for leisure activities where they live—a pandemic-era record-high. Meanwhile, 41.3% say they are not ready for tourists in town just yet—however, this is a far cry from the 67.6% who felt this way a year ago (and also represents a record low). Nearly 47% of American travelers say they would be happy to see an ad promoting where they live as a place for tourists to visit when safe. Positive sentiment towards tourism in one’s own community is generally much stronger among those Millennial-age compared to those in older generations.
This week, 48.2% of American travelers report they have already been vaccinated against COVID-19. The U.S. rapidly vaccinating its population combined with desires for the final holdouts of normalcy to return has fueled much conversation about vaccine passports. While vaccine passports are being debated in the political realm, it appears that, particularly for certain activities, an important proportion of American travelers is in favor of proof-of-vaccination policies. When asked how comfortable they would be with vaccine passports being used widely in the U.S. to allow access to public activities, 52.0% said they would be comfortable or very comfortable—a feeling strongest among older travelers and those who have already been vaccinated. A majority of American travelers also say they believe proof of COVID-19 vaccination should be required for entry to the United States from another country, boarding a cruise line, and boarding a commercial flight. More than 4-in-10 say they believe vaccination proof should be required to attend an indoor performance like a concert and to attend large scale outdoor sporting events. 3-in-10 even currently say it should be required for indoor restaurant dining.