Survey finds Thai travellers to prefer domestic travel through 2021

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Europ Assistance today announced the global findings of their Future of Travel survey conducted by IPSOS which surveyed 11,000 travelers across 11 countries around the world between June 5th and June 26th. Over 1,000 Thais took part in the survey, with the majority preferring to explore Thailand for the foreseeable future.

The survey found more than 8 in 10 Thais want to travel during 2020, with 75% preferring to travel domestically in 2020. While most nations preferred to look forward to international tourism in 2021, 71% of Thai travelers expressed a preference for further local travel next year. Despite having travel plans for this year, only 36% of Thais have already booked their trip. Safety is a key concern for Thai travelers, as 86% intend to avoid visiting crowded places and 84% said they would avoid traveling to certain countries. Another trend highlighted by the study is that 70% of Thais now plan to buy travel insurance in the future, while only 44% of people did this in the past.

While Covid-19 has had a major impact on the travel across the world, the overwhelming majority (81 percent) of those surveyed globally indicated they would be interested in taking a trip in 2020. However, only 35 percent of respondents from the 11 countries claimed to have already booked for the months of July and August or to be planning to do so. This is likely only a short-term trend as most of those surveyed also indicated they would be more confident in booking a trip later in 2020 and in early 2021. Furthermore, many of the travellers, particularly those in Europe, indicated they’ll return to their pre-Covid travel preferences such as flying and staying in large hotels by early next year.

The key findings from this year’s Future of Travel Survey are highlighted below:

Planned Travel in 2020: The survey asked travelers across the globe their thoughts on travel for this summer and moving forward into the fall and winter. The findings show that Covid-19 has not stopped travelers but caused short term changes in their trip preferences, with most preferring trips that are closer to home this year.

  • 81 percent of all respondents said they planned to take a trip with respondents in Italy (89 percent), France (87 percent) and Thailand (85 percent) leading the other countries when it comes to planned travel in 2020.
  • The average budget among global respondents was €1,506 (Thailand €733) with 36 percent indicating they’ll be taking a relaxing weeklong vacation at a beach destination (30 percent of Thai respondents) for their post-lockdown trip this summer.
  • 74 percent of global respondents indicated they’ll be travelling by car (either rented or personal) to their summer destination, with Thai travelers just below this at 71 percent.
  • 61 percent of global respondents are choosing to stay in private rentals or small hotels, most likely in an attempt to maintain social distancing and avoid large crowds. Only 27 percent of Thais preferred the same accommodation, while 71 percent intended to stay in a hotel.

Covid Concerns & Risk Mitigation: Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 is the main fear for all travelers surveyed but we asked respondents their thoughts on what risk mitigation measures they plan to take themselves and what Covid-19 concerns need to be addressed before they begin travelling.

  • Travelers indicated that an epidemic occurring when travelling (36 percent), not being able to engage in their usual trip activities and sightseeing due to Covid (28 percent) and being quarantined abroad (27 percent) are the three key concerns. In Thailand, 51 percent were concerned with an epidemic outbreak when traveling.
  • A drop in infection rates (54 percent), an official government advisory (25 percent) and the reopening of hotels, bars and restaurants (25 percent) were the three leading factors that would reassure travelers.
  • The top risk mitigation behaviors travelers would engage in this year are avoid travelling to certain countries (79 percent), avoid crowded places (77 percent) and plan to stay within their own country (76 percent).

Mode of Transportation Comparisons: While the majority of global travelers are opting to take their car this summer, travel by plane is still the second choice for global travelers.

  • 75 percent, the overwhelming majority of global travelers indicated they’d be taking a car (rented or their own) to their summer post-lockdown getaway. The number of travelers who indicated they would take a car to their trip in the fall (58 percent) decreased significantly and continued to decrease when travelers were asked what their preferred mode of transport would be in the winter (56 percent) and in 2021 (51 percent).
  • 20 percent of all global travelers said they would take a plane this summer. However the number of respondents who said they would take a plane in the fall increased by 13 percent (33 percent) and continued to increase when asked what mode of transport they would take in the winter (37 percent) with more than double saying they would travel via plane in 2021(44 percent).
  • 14 percent of global travelers said they would take the train this summer. Train travel remained relatively flat as a choice among travelers for the fall (16 percent), winter (17 percent) with an only 3 percent increase in traveler preference by 2021 (17 percent).

Destination Comparisons: Most travelers globally indicated that they’ll be travelling locally this summer, but they are eager to travel internationally in 2021.

  • 60 percent of travelers surveyed said they planned to travel domestically this summer. While it stayed around this level when asked about travel in the fall (52 percent) and winter (54 percent), it dropped by almost half (39 percent) when travelers were asked about whether they planned to travel domestically in 2021.
  • 6 percent of those surveyed indicated they’ll take a trip outside their own country. However, the number of respondents doubled when asked about their travel plans this coming fall (14 percent) and winter (14 percent) and by 2021, 19 percent of global travelers indicated they’ll take a trip abroad.

Trip Protection: In the wake of the current pandemic, it’s no surprise that most travelers are concerned about getting protection for their next trip.

  • Prior to Covid only 48 percent of the travelers surveyed indicated they were covered by travel insurance. However, 54 percent of global travelers indicated they would purchase travel insurance for their next trip. In Thailand, the trend is even bigger with 70% of Thai now plan to buy travel insurance in the future, while only 44% of people did this in the past.
  • 66 percent want to be covered for repatriation if their trip destination closes their borders or imposes a lockdown.
  • 63 percent want to be covered for trip extension.
  • 62 percent want to have support for the 14 days after they return if they become sick on their trip. 

Francine Abgrall, Head of Travel at Europ Assistance Group: “Our annual Holiday Barometer, which would have had its twenty-year anniversary this year, was a way for us to share the latest travel preferences held by travelers around the globe. This is why this year we worked with IPSOS on a survey that looks at the future of travel to see how much those preferences have changed or remained same. While many preferences were in line with current sentiments on social distancing (smaller accommodations) and the avoidance of crowds (minimal use of public transport), we noticed that respondents indicated they would be comfortable going back to their pre-Covid travel preferences when asked about their travel plans for 2021. Though there is still a lot of uncertainty, the results of the survey are positive with more than half of the respondents indicating they would be taking a holiday in 2020 signaling a strong rebound for the industry in the medium and long term.” 

Philippe Demangeat, CEO of Europ Assistance Thailand“We have, for the first time, included Thais travel preferences in our annual Holiday barometer. We notice a plebiscite, moving forward, for travel insurance and assistance services. 70% of Thai people are going to buy travel protection products when they were only 44% last year.  Emergency medical and hospital expenses and travel delay / cancellation coverage are now a must  with a strong interest for additional extra services such as pre-trip medical and safety advice about destination, ability to receive geolocalized information on Covid-19 cases during the trip, telemedicine and ability to be Covid-19 tested anytime, anywhere.Despite the current uncertain period, it is very positive to see the Thai people intend to keep travelling in the coming months and in 2021. They will travel more domestically, during shorter periods with the necessary financial support and services.”  

Methodology:

Online survey conducted by Ipsos at the request of Europ Assistance among 11,000 individuals (nationally representative samples of 1,000 people per country) in Europe (France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Poland and the UK), in Asia (China and Thailand) and in the USA. This survey is an updated version of the 20th edition of the Ipsos Holiday Barometer, which it was getting ready to conduct when the general lock-down began. The goal of this survey is to ascertain how the Covid-19 epidemic has altered holidaymakers’ travel plans and aspirations, in order to assist the various players in the tourism sector in preparing for the “post-Covid world”.