By summer 2021, travelers will be less worried about safety and ready for revenge travel – trips and vacations planned as a form pandemic payback. Three-out-of-four travelers (77%) are less or much less concerned about travel safety for the last half of 2021 (July to December) compared to 2020, according to a Global Rescue survey of more than 2,000 of its current and former members.
Traveler confidence is growing stronger, and that’s good news for the travel industry.
What has changed? The global vaccine rollout is helping boost consumer confidence. The number of COVID-19 cases is lower, hospitalizations are down and positive tests have decreased, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The majority of survey respondents expect to go on their next multi-day domestic trip greater than 100 miles from home by June 2021. International travel will pick up soon after, with nearly 6-out-of-10 respondents (57%) expecting to travel abroad sometime between spring and winter 2021.
Traveler sentiment is at odds, however, with government and health officials air travel requirements.
Government and health officials from several countries, including Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., have implemented requirements for residents and non-residents to have a negative COVID-19 test before entering or re-entering those countries. Travelers must find, schedule, complete, and get the results of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of air travel. Depending on the country a traveler is visiting, this can be a challenging or even impossible list of tasks to complete.
Proof of vaccination against the virus has not been approved as a substitution for a negative COVID-19 test.
Unfortunately, negative COVID-19 tests do not inspire traveler confidence, certainly not nearly as much as the coronavirus vaccination, according to the survey. By a 2-to-1 margin, negative COVID-19 tests do not make travelers feel safer compared to getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Seventy three percent of respondents would feel safer during a trip if they had a vaccine compared to only 36% who would feel safer if they had a negative PCR COVID-19 test result before reaching their destination.
Traveler trust in the efficacy of a vaccination understandably surpasses that of a negative coronavirus test since the former prevents against an occurrence and the latter only detects if an individual has been infected by the virus.
Precautions to prevent the spread of the disease are only as good as the ability for travelers to get access to fast, reliable, convenient testing options. Authorities must make accommodations for people who have been vaccinated or have antibodies from the disease.
Finding a testing facility in a foreign country worries travelers. When asked how they would find a facility, 21% said they would rely on tour operators, another 21% would ask their travel agent, 18% would rely on destination resources, 16% would find one on their own and 9% would ask their insurance provider. Fifteen percent of respondents admitted they don’t know what they would do.
Testing should also be expanded to include Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) and next generation antigen testing, both of which are suitable ways of determining COVID-19 status.
Traveler confidence to begin taking trips and planning vacations abroad hinges on two conditions. According to survey results, getting a COVID-19 vaccination (47%) and border openings (34%) are the two most important requirements travelers need in place to feel safe enough to travel internationally. Travelers will feel safe enough to plan trips and vacations when they are vaccinated, when borders are open and managed in a predictable way, and when they know they’ll be able to get home if the worst happens.
Dan Richards is CEO of Global Rescue, the leading travel risk and crisis response provider, a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and a Global Member of the World Travel and Tourism Council. Global Rescue conducted a survey between Jan. 26-31, 2021 of more than 2,000 of its current and former members who are among the most experienced travelers in the world.
By Dan Richards