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The latest wave of Longwoods International's ongoing consumer sentiment tracking study revealed that 87 percent of Americans have travel plans within the next six months-the highest level seen since early March 2020, just prior to the pandemic's arrival.
"Spring is bringing warmer weather and a brighter outlook for the travel industry," Amir Eylon, President and CEO of Longwoods International, remarked. "The faster the progress is on vaccines and controlling the virus, the faster the battered travel sector will recover."
Half of the travelers surveyed said that the primary factor they're looking for when choosing a destination to visit within the next six months is that it has clearly established health and safety protocols in place, such as mask mandates and social distancing imperatives. Yet, 44 percent of respondents said they're seeking spots that have no travel restrictions (e.g., quarantines, testing requirements) in place.
"While key travel sentiment indicators show that the pent-up demand in leisure travel is beginning to release, the research also clearly demonstrates that destinations should not roll back the communication and promotion of their health and safety protocols to help keep their guests and communities as safe as possible," noted Eylon.
Just over one-third (33 percent) of the survey group said that COVID-19 will greatly impact their travel plans over the next six months, which is the smallest percentage seen within the past year. Fifty-seven percent reported the need to change upcoming travel plans due to COVID-19, representing the lowest level since last March. Twenty-three percent indicated that the virus isn't influencing their travel plans at all.
COVID-19 vaccines now being a factor in making travel decisions, the study also asked participants about its impact on their plans. Thirty-seven percent want to wait to travel until they've received the vaccine, 20 percent would rather wait until the majority of people in their intended destination have been immunized, and 17 percent want to wait until most Americans have been vaccinated. Interestingly, 33 percent said that the vaccine has no impact on their travel plans whatsoever.
In terms of the current perceptions of safety, 55 percent of respondents said they feel comfortable venturing outside of their communities and just over half support opening their communities up to visitors-both being the highest levels seen throughout the course of the study. Fifty-three percent of those polled reported that they now feel safe dining in local restaurants and shopping at local retail stores.
The COVID-19 Travel Sentiment Study-Wave 33 was fielded on February 17, 2021, using a randomly-selected national sample of 1,000 adults, ages 18 and over. Selection quotas were applied in keeping with Census targets for age, gender and region, making the survey as representative of the overall U.S. population as possible.
Laurie Baratti is a San Diego-based journalist whose work has previously appeared in publications like TravelAge West, SPACE,...
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