By: Ann Ruppenstein
Cover photos: Paul Gilmore
Being immersed in nature, getting active in the great outdoors, connecting with friends and family, and staying closer to home were some of the top upcoming travel trends revealed during the recent ITB Berlin NOW Convention.
After examining travel behaviour and travel plans across North America, Germany and China, the overall outlook for tourism is positive, with 70% of respondents who took part in market research data prepared exclusively for ITB, indicating they plan to travel in 2021.
“It really looks like we all want to travel again. Overall, lots of people want to travel and want to spend their money on travel, which is a good sign,” said Claudia Cramer, director of Market Research at Statista, during a session called ITB World Travel Survey: Global Tourism Demand Forecast. “Most people want to travel as soon as possible.”
And when the time comes to travel again, Peter Kautz, VP Research & Analysis said the majority of respondents indicated their travel behaviours would change in the long run with a bigger focus on sustainability, nature and the environment.
“Doing nature and outdoor trips has become much more important,” he said, adding that over 60% of those surveyed in North America and Germany stressed the importance of taking more trips in nature and engaging in outdoor activities on imminent trips. Kautz said this is also apparent across Google searches for hiking and biking tours, which have surged since the pandemic began.
Not surprisingly, especially in North America, there wasn’t a lot of travel happening over the past year, but interestingly, the top reasons for not travelling among those surveyed weren’t quarantine measures or the lockdowns enforced on travellers, but rather concerns surrounding safety.
“Very striking — they do not feel comfortable to travel during the pandemic — this outweighs the lockdown [or travel restrictions],” said Cramer. “Safety is more important than the actual travel limitations.”
In terms of the types of vacations people took and are planning, visiting friends and relatives tops the list.
“We think the pandemic has brought a great desire and longing to be together with our loved ones,” she said, pointing out this was particularly strong among German and North American respondents.
Across all countries surveyed, beach vacations ranked highly, which could indicate a rapid return to travel in The Caribbean from the Canadian market when lift resumes and restrictions ease.
“Across the globe, every one loves their beach vacation and wants to return to that as soon as it is possible again,” she said.
When it comes to destinations planned for this year, staying closer to home and domestic travel is on the rise in the US and China. Although domestic travel is also popular in Germany, this is a key market that is also planning on taking trips out of the country, which she believes could be attributed to the close proximity of other destinations in Europe.
And while the demand is there to return to leisure holidays as soon as possible, the same isn’t the case for business travel. A significant portion of those polled, between 63 and 66%, foresee fewer business trips in the future and a slower recovery for this segment.
“Business trips will decline in numbers and duration, people feel less bullish about that,” Kautz said.
As for types of lodging, beyond overnight stays with family and friends, Cramer said hotel stays were the most preferred lodging type for future holidays.
“This should be a good sign for the industry,” she added.
A final trend that was already shaping the future of travel prior to the pandemic is the role Smartphones play on trips.
Kautz said users are turning to their digital devices at every stage of travel, from the planning phase to sourcing directions to the nearest restaurant in destination.
“Almost every traveller uses a Smartphone as a guide while travelling,” he said.