May 06, 2020

Travel Intentions Pulse Survey - Impact of COVID-19

The U.S. Travel Association has partnered with MMGY Travel Intelligence to conduct a biweekly study of U.S. business and leisure travelers. This survey measures current and future traveler sentiment amid the COVID-19 pandemic and will track trends and shifts in travel intentions. The study will poll respondents for both domestic and international travel intent by purpose and type.

Key findings from the April 17-22:

  • Travelers are returning to a more optimistic outlook about travel in the next six months. After falling to just 31% of travelers in Wave II, those who said they are likely to take a vacation in the next six months increased to 38% in Wave III. The likelihood of taking a business trip in the next six months remained stable between Wave I and Wave II, which is also encouraging.

  • As the pandemic continues, plans that were once postponed are increasingly being canceled. The most impacted are those that require longer-term planning and more expense such as vacations, flights, conferences and sporting and theatrical events. The largest shift has been in overall vacation plans, where those saying they’ve now canceled a vacation increased from 58% in Wave II to 66% Wave III.

  • After dropping noticeably in Wave II, travelers’ perceptions of safety across various forms of transportation and travel increased in Wave III. This is likely due to the fact that mainstream media’s coverage of optimism about “flattening the curve” corresponded closely with when Wave III was in the field.

  • Road trips and travel to destinations closer to home will be key trends driving travel growth as the pandemic fades. The percentage of travelers who agreed that they are more likely to travel by car after COVID-19 passes increased from 35% in Wave II to 47% in Wave III. And, the percentage who said they are more likely to travel to destinations close to home increased from 36% in Wave II to 42%. This was especially true for older travelers.

  • Consumers’ interest in travel may ultimately be transcended by lingering concerns about either safety or their ability to pay for it. Six in ten respondents say they will be eager to travel for leisure once the COVID-19 emergency has passed, up from 54% in Wave II. Yet, just 38% say they are likely to take a leisure trip in the next six months.

  • Less than one-third of travelers are eager to travel for business. However, business travelers are more likely to engage in all types of travel-related activities than are leisure travelers. This may simply reflect the fact that business travelers are typically more frequent travelers overall.

  • A slowing in the spread of COVID-19 worldwide and the CDC reducing risk advisory levels continue to be the most important factors impacting decisions to travel in the next six months. However, there are also signs that travelers are increasingly looking for travel restrictions to be lifted to make a travel decision. The percentage of travelers who indicated an easing of travel restrictions would impact their decision to travel increased from 45% in Wave II to 53% in Wave III.

  • In Wave III, travelers were slightly less concerned about the threat of contracting COVID-19 than they were just two weeks prior. In particular, the concern about others in their household contracting the virus dropped from 40% in Wave II to 34% in Wave III. And, travelers age 50-64 years old continue to be the age group least concerned.

  • The sources of information American travelers rely upon most for their COVID-19 news are national and local TV news, followed by national cable news and the CDC. Local radio talk shows and newspapers, as well as NPR, are the sources travelers rely upon the least.

  • Travelers Starting to Feel Safer

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