Less anxious and pessimistic about the pandemic, Americans still feel quite some distance from “normal” —particularly when it comes to travel. Meanwhile, as the year marches on, the proportion of Americans planning to travel within the next three months has grown.
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 15th, 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 January 29th-31st.
Key Findings to Know:
Welcome to month 2 of 2021!
After heightening last week, Americans’ anxiety about personally contracting COVID-19 (6.8/10), their friends or family contracting the virus (7.3), the pandemic’s impact on their personal finances (6.0) and the national economy (7.6) lessened this week. More Americans are now feeling the coronavirus situation in the United States will stay relatively the same over the next month, at 35.0% up from 26.9% since last week. Meanwhile, the percent who feel things will get worse (34.3%) and the percent who feel things will get better (30.7%) both decreased. Americans’ perceptions of the safety of travel and leisure activities continue to be among the best they have been during the pandemic. More than half of Americans no longer view museums and indoor attractions, theme parks and outdoor attractions, vacation home rentals, hotels, restaurants, and shopping as unsafe. However, Americans still generally feel some distance from “normal.” Right now, the abilities to work/make money, be happy and enjoy relationships with family are where the greatest proportions of American travelers feel closer to normal. Unfortunately, just 21.4 percent feel more normalcy around being able to travel as they like. (NOTE: Be sure to register for our webinar Tuesday for further analysis into which segments are feeling the most normal).
Vaccines play a large role in a return to normal. When asked what needed to happen before they feel things have returned back to a normalcy they are comfortable with, there was the most agreement with having an effective vaccine widely distributed in the United States (57.2%), followed by an effective vaccine widely distributed across the globe (44.5%). About two-thirds of American travelers feel the available vaccines are safe and a majority of American travelers who have not yet received the vaccine expect to be vaccinated by June (57.9%).
While excitement for travel in both the short (5.5/10) and longer term (5.9) decreased slightly this week and half still report they would feel guilty traveling right now, Americans’ overall state-of-mind around travel is at levels last seen in Fall 2020, before the most recent surge in cases. This week, 56.6% say they are in a readiness mindset when it comes to travel. Americans remain in a period of being the most open to travel inspiration that they have been since the onset of the pandemic 11 months ago. Although 56.1% still don’t want travelers in their own community right now, 40.5% said they would be happy to see an ad promoting their community as a place for tourism when it’s safe.
At this start of a new month in the year, the average American traveler is still reporting they will take 2.8 leisure trips in 2021 (down from 4.9 in 2019). Just under half of Americans travelers say they will take at least one trip in the next three months (February-April). This rate of travel and the average number of trips for this period is greater than the January-March period. Many of these trips will remain regional, within 250 miles of the traveler’s home—although cities as a trip destination has grown in popularity (40.9%), surpassing small towns and rural destinations (31.6%)
Two-thirds of American travelers did some kind of travel planning activity in the last week, from making travel reservations (11.2%) to researching travel ideas online (27.6%) to simply daydreaming about a vacation (33.2%). Looking at where Americans dreamt of visiting in the last week, many had their minds on sun and fun (Florida, Hawaii, California, Jamaica), Europe, iconic cities (Paris, New York, Las Vegas) as well as outdoor destinations (Alaska, Wyoming).