Revenge Travel: Predictions for Where We Go Next
Revenge Travel for an Epic Pandemic Payback
By Dan Richards
Beginning in June 2021, concerns about travel safety will diminish sufficiently among travelers to plan what some are calling “revenge travel” – trips and vacations planned as a form of 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.
An Excellent Update
Traveler optimism is increasing, and that’s an excellent update for the travel industry. Travelers are cautiously planning trips with an abundance of flexibility so that they can remain responsive to shifts in pandemic protocols, COVID-19 vaccination schedules and coronavirus testing access.
What’s driving the transformation? The worldwide vaccine rollout is helping increase 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).
Sixty-nine percent of survey respondents expect to go on their next multi-day domestic trip greater than 100 miles from home by June 2021. Specifically, 37% plan to travel before the end of March, 32% sometime between April and June, 17% between July and September, 8% at some point between October and December, and 5% not until 2022 or after.
Domestic Now, Abroad Later
Travel abroad will pick up, too, but a little later than domestic travel. Nearly 6-out-of-10 respondents (57%) expecting to travel internationally sometime between spring and winter 2021. Global travel estimates among survey respondents reveal that 10% expect to travel before the end of March, 19% sometime between April and June, another 19% at some point between July and September, 18% between October and December, and 29% not until 2022 or after.
Traveler attitudes are at odds, however, with health and government 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 Vax
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’s trust in the efficacy of a vaccination understandably surpasses that of a negative coronavirus test since the former prevents 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 Testing Abroad Worrisome
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.
The biggest concerns for travelers planning an international trip are, by far, potential quarantines (41%) and COVID-19 infection (29%), according to survey responses. Twelve percent of survey-takers listed trip cancellation as the third major concern.
From Crime to Pandemic
Last year, respondents cited “crime” as the leading travel safety concern but the pandemic pushed that fear to the bottom of the list along with getting sick (from something other than COVID-19), accidents, civil unrest/terrorism, lost luggage, robbery, nuclear disaster and cybercrime, each netting 7% of responses or less.
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.