Covid Research

ABTA has identified six key trends that are shaping people’s travel plans for 2021, based on expert insight and research, as well as booking data from their Members. 

  1. Embracing old favourites
  2. Ticking off the bucket list
  3. An increasing desire for country (great outdoors) escapes
  4. Committed cruisers
  5. Peace of mind of a package and expertise

Read the full findings here

Six Travel Trends 2021

Please see below some consumer sentiment insights from the latest VB consumer sentiment tracker fieldwork undertaken between 9th – 13th November). This fieldwork was undertaken while England was in a second lockdown. However, during this period there were also positive announcements in relation to the effectiveness of vaccines and the timeframe for their availability.

  • The average mood of UK adults increased to 6.6/10, realigning it with levels seen during late September.
  • The proportion of UK adults stating ‘the worst has passed’ in relation to COVID-19 has significantly risen compared to the last wave (from 5% to 16%) and is at the highest level since early September. Likewise, a significantly lower proportion of UK consumers feel that ‘the worst is still to come’ compared to last wave (falling from 61% to 40%).
  • There has been a very small increase in the proportion of UK adults expecting normality by next March (moving from 17% to 18%), following 4 consecutive waves of decline. However, the majority of UK adults (82%) don’t expect normality before April, with half (50%) not expecting normality returning before next July.
  • Near-term confidence (November to January 2021) in being able to take a domestic overnight trip has declined since the last wave and confidence remains subdued even up to March 2021. It’s not until the April - June 2021 period that we see a majority (53%) of UK adults expressing confidence in the ability to take a trip, rising further through the summer and autumn months. 
  • ‘Restrictions on travel from government’ is the leading reason UK adults do not feel confident about taking an overnight trip by a significant margin.
  • 6% of UK adults plan on taking a domestic overnight trip before the end of the year; a decline on the 10% that stated this in the previous wave.
  • 13% intend to take an overnight trip between January and March rising to over a third (35%) during the Spring or Summer of 2021. Both of these figures  have increased since the last wave (when it was 11% and 30% respectively). 
  • 32% of UK adults are not intending to take any domestic overnight trips at all, but this is significantly lower than the last wave (37%).
  • From Spring 2021 onwards, longer breaks (4+ nights) make up the majority of overnight trips.
  • For those who have already booked travel or who are intending to travel between now and March, they are most likely to book their accommodation directly with an accommodation provider (around 1 in 3 intend to use this channel) followed by an online travel website (about 1 in 4).
  • The single most important condition for consumer reassurance to stay in accommodation over the next few months is still ‘free cancellations’ (51%) very closely followed by ‘enhanced cleaning regimes’ (50%) and ‘plentiful hand sanitisers’ (50%).
insights 1
  • Shorter breaks of 1-3 nights look set to account for a higher volume of UK domestic trips than those of 4+ nights for trips taken between now and next March. However, from Spring 2021 onwards, there is a preference for longer breaks (4+ nights).
  • Destination intention for trips planned between January and March is led by ‘countryside or village’ (36%) followed by cities/towns (30%) and traditional coastal/seaside town (25%).
  • The accommodation preference for trips planned between January and March is camping/caravans at 43%, a significant increase on 27% seen in the last wave. This may be linked to ‘countryside/village’ being the destination of choice and possibly reflects a shift in mindset, with people committing themselves to less ‘formal’ trips that more readily lend themselves to both social distancing and last minute changes of plan. This is followed by holiday rentals (41%) and hotels (40%).
  • For trips between November – March 2021, people are most likely to book their accommodation directly with an accommodation provider, with just over a 1 in 3 share, followed closely by OTAs such as Expedia, Booking.com, Lastminute.com, Tripadvisor, highlighting the opportunity to work closely with our OTA partners.
  • Unsurprisingly, cleanliness, hygiene and distancing feature highly among the measures considered essential for staying in accommodation during the coming months. Offering free cancellations also features highly, suggesting a strong need to provide reassurance and confidence that reimbursement will occur should plans change.
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  • In terms of domestic region likely to be visited between January and March, the South West and North West tie with 18% shares, narrowly ahead of London (16%). The popularity of the coastal South West and areas like the Lake District in the North West echo the strong preference for outdoor areas, activities and attractions in terms of leisure activities once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Insights from Consumer Database Survey

In conjunction with AITO and Spike, a survey of the Visit Jersey consumer database was undertaken during September. 455 responses were received and some of the key findings are highlighted below. The majority of respondents (70%) were aged 60 and above.

Many of the insights revealed in this VJ consumer database survey align with the trends we are seeing in other consumer sentiment research, confirming that safety of the destination and flexibility in booking terms are the most important factors for consumers when considering booking a holiday, with only 4% selecting cheap deals/special offers.

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47% of respondents anticipated that a car would be the main mode of travel for their next holiday or trip, compared to 36% who selected plane and 8% who selected boat. The fact that nearly half were planning to travel in their own car presents an opportunity to promote car/ferry visits from the UK.

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In terms of accommodation preferences, 60% said they would be most likely to stay in a hotel when they begin to travel again, compared to 21% who said private rentals (such as Airbnb), 8% who would stay with friends or  relatives, 7% who chose caravan/camping and 4% who opted for a Guesthouse/BnB. This perhaps suggests that people are feeling increasingly confident in the safety measures being taken in hotels to protect staff and guests from Covid-19.

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There is still quite a lot of uncertainty around the length of holidays that people will take over the next year, with 37% saying they were likely to take more short breaks (i.e. trips of 1-3 days), 33% saying they were likely to take more holidays (i.e. trips of 4+ days) and 31% saying they didn’t know.

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In terms of the types of holidays that people will be most interested in when they can start to travel again, 60% were most interested in city breaks (noting that some may have interpreted this as ‘short breaks’), 44% said the beach and 38% opted for renting a private home/villa. Nature-based activities were also popular with 64% of people interested in lakes & mountains and walking.

reseaerch

Nearly half (46%) of respondents said they are likely to travel on holiday within the UK this year. Next year, just under 60% intend to spend the same amount or more on holidays as last year, reflecting the consumer demand to get travelling again.

VisitBritain, Customer sentiment tracker: Week 13 (fieldwork undertaken 10 August – 14 August)

  • Hotel/motel/inn has become the leading choice of accommodation for domestic trips between October and March (up to 40% from 36% last week).  Although the rise is not statistically significant and the lead is narrow with other accommodation types generating similar interest (38% choosing ‘private homes’ and 36% choosing ‘commercial rental’), it perhaps suggests that people are becoming more comfortable doing everyday activities/tasks and have growing trust in organisations making places COVID-19 safe.
  • In term of the reassurances people are seeking in order to feel comfortable staying in a hotel, measures to reduce contamination (e.g. hand sanitisers and enhanced cleaning regimes) narrowly leads over measures designed to encourage social distancing. Offering free cancellations continues to remain important, once again being the second most cited individual reason overall, with 60% of mentions. 
  • The gap between likelihood to participate in outdoor versus indoor activities is also showing signs of narrowing compared to previous weeks, perhaps reflecting the fact that processes are now being widely adopted to allow the safe enjoyment of visiting museums, having beauty treatments or eating out etc.
  • In terms of UK region/nation most likely to be visited between October 2020 and March 2021, the South West continues to dominate, with 16% of those intending to go on a UK domestic overnight trip citing this as their preferred destination, reflecting a narrow lead over Scotland (15%) and London (13%). These 3 destinations have remained the most popular destinations for a UK domestic overnight trip since the fieldwork commenced in May.

Covid-19 Consumer Tracker uk report week 13 final

A survey undertaken by the Office of National Statistics found that:

o    40% of people say that they have no travel plans this year
o    27% of adults said they were either likely or very likely to go on holiday in the UK this summer 
o    6% said they were likely or very likely to go on holiday abroad (down from 9% last week)
o    Only 8% of people said they would be likely to travel overseas knowing that they had to self-isolate for 14 days
o    18% reported that they had cancelled their travel plans 
o    14% said they had decided to holiday in the UK instead of travelling abroad this year – which is lower than many people would have expected.

Some key findings from the weekly BVA BDRC Sentiment Tracker Survey of 1,759 British adults include:

  • The percentage of people who think the worst is yet to come continues to track upwards to around 50% of the population – with only around 15% of people thinking that we are over the worst of it.
  • 85% of people think that there will be a second wave that leads to a lockdown
  • UK Holiday participation is tracking at 14% while there is only 2% participation in overseas holidays.
  • The remaining weeks of August see intentions to go on a UK holiday before the end of Au-gust and September continue to drop, due in large part to people having already taken their holiday. Intention to take a holiday before the end of December, however, increases from 45% to 48%, as those yet to take any breaks look to use up holiday allowance before the end of the year.
  • The number of people that have been on holiday in the UK so far this summer (June to 13 August) is less than the number of people who went on holiday in the UK during the winter period of January – March 2020.

Google has launched a new commercial advertising unit for tours, activities and attractions featuring attractions from the likes of Viator, GetYourGuide, and Tiqets, although this is only likely to be visible to a small percentage of users at the moment.
 

What are the impacts and consequences of the Covid pandemic on tourism? Access a wealth of research and insights to help inform your business decisions. This page will be updated regularly. 

YouGov

A YouGov survey of over 2,500 British people, undertaken on 29 July, shows that nearly half do not intend on holidaying this year, although 28% are planning on holidaying within the UK (and 9% intend to holiday abroad).

VisitBritain, Customer sentiment tracker

In the most recent wave of the VisitBritain weekly consumer sentiment tracker (fieldwork undertaken 27 – 31 July), measures to reduce contamination (83%), ensure social distancing (81%) and having booking incentives such as free cancellations (80%) are the leading assurances needed by the public when staying in accommodation this summer. Offering ‘free cancellations’ continues to be the second most cited essential condition for accommodation providers to have in place.

Accommodation

Visit Britain, Domestic Outlook

VisitBritain have forecast a central scenario for Britain of:

  • £46.8bn in domestic tourism spending in 2020, down 49% compared to 2019 when spending by domestic tourists in Britain was £91.6bn. This comprises £12.6bn from overnight tourism, down from £24.7bn in 2019, and £34.2bn from day trips, down from £67.0bn in 2019. 
  • This is a decline of 49% for both overnights and leisure day trips, although the pattern of the recovery will be different. While some categories of day trips started to recover first, others will be very limited for some months to come.
  • This represents a loss of £44.9bn (£12.1bn from overnights and £32.8bn from day trips) – greater than the loss from inbound tourism in absolute value terms, although lower in percentage terms.

This above is a short-term forecast that describes one possible outturn and involves many assumptions and simplifications due to the fast-moving and uncertain situation; it is therefore subject to revision. Two specific assumptions made are:

(1) No major second wave of the virus that would necessitate a renewed national lockdown;

(2) By early 2021 we are unlikely to be back to baseline (pre-COVID) levels in any purpose/category. This is due to economic factors, supply loss, some continued level of social distancing, and traveller sentiment.