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Consumer Trends and Travel Behavior Shifts Revealed in New Report

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The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Trip.com Group has launched Trending in Travel, a new report that shows the latest trends impacting traveler behavior and future booking patterns in the wake of COVID-19.

WTTC, representing the private travel and tourism sector, joined forces with leading global travel service provider, Trip.com Group, and its major consumer brands Trip.com, Ctrip, and Skyscanner, to analyze consumer trends shaping the recovery of the travel and tourism sector.

WTTC’s latest projections show strong growth in international spending for 2022 and beyond, projecting to overtake domestic spending in 2022, as more destinations ease restrictions and vaccination rates continue to rise. 

Following a 69.4 percent decline (2020), global international spending on travel is set to rise by 9.3 percent in 2021, and significantly by 93.8 percent in 2022.

The inaugural report also reveals how severe and confusing travel restrictions around the world drove a significant rise in domestic tourism, with a surge in domestic hotel bookings of more than 200 percent on Trip.com’s platform this year compared to 2019.

Since the start of the pandemic, mobility restrictions have hindered international travel and, although domestic travel will provide a much-needed boost to the sector, WTTC says the return of international travel is critical to rebooting the global economy. 

The report focuses on booking trends, consumer considerations, and consumer profiles. It also features examples of markets whose resilience has provided a platform for the recovery of the travel and tourism sector.

The report shows how COVID-19 has changed the way people travel. Among the notable impacts of the pandemic:

  • Younger travelers were the first to return to travel
  • Increased demand for longer stays
  • The importance of fee-free cancellations and the demand for high levels of health and safety checks

To avoid travel restrictions, travelers are seeking secondary destinations, away from traditional holiday spots, as their destinations of choice. This preference positively impacts local communities and livelihoods. According to Trip.com’s hotel booking data, Abu Dhabi (UAE), Chiang Mai (Thailand), Doha (Qatar), Florence (Italy), and Frankfurt (Germany) were the most popular secondary destinations in their respective countries in 2021.

The report goes on to show that, according to Ctrip data, bookings for the great outdoors will predominate in the short and medium term. The pause in travel has also heightened consumers’ eagerness to travel more sustainably with more than eight out of 10 (83 percent) global travelers saying they would make sustainable travel a priority in the future. Reinforcing this long-term trend, the report shows 68 million travelers have opted to book a “Greener Choice” labeled flight on Skyscanner, a comparatively lower-carbon flight choice.

According to the report, 70 percent of travelers in many major countries such as the U.S., Spain, the UK, Canada, and Japan plan to spend more on travel in 2022 than they have in the past five years, including 2019, which was one of the best years on record for Travel & Tourism.

“It is clear people are really looking forward to traveling again,” says Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO. “Consumers are curious, they are looking at new destinations, ‘the great outdoors’ and travel that benefits the places and people they visit. As travel and tourism represents over 10 percent of global GDP, this is good news for jobs and economies. The impact in some countries has been devastating for local communities, and this report shows that business is returning in earnest.” 

The latest WTTC research shows the global recovery of the Travel & Tourism sector is picking up pace with the sector’s contribution to global GDP projected to rise by 30.7 percent in 2021 and 31.7 percent in 2022.  

“Travelers around the world have shown their eagerness to travel, whether limited to domestic travel or able to cross borders, we see a huge amount of pent-up demand steadily being released,” says Jane Sun, CEO of Trip.com Group. “To better evolve with the recovery, we must understand travelers, and as an industry, adapt to emerging trends.”

Download the Trending in Travel: Emerging Consumer Trends in Travel & Tourism in 2021 and Beyond report here.

About The Author
julieKeller_author-1

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures, ForbesTraveler.com, E! Online, Gayot.com, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.