New Consumer Survey Finds Leisure Travelers Unwilling to Resume Travel Once the Coronavirus is Contained; Asian Destinations Hit Hardest

By Grail Insights Newsroom | March 05, 2020

A recent Grail Insights survey of leisure travelers suggests that tourism will be slow to recover even after the COVID-19 ends its stranglehold on global travel. Between February 14–27, 2020, Grail gathered responses from 1,784 US and UK leisure travelers on their willingness to resume travel once the virus is contained. The study reveals a discernible threat of ongoing deferral of leisure travel. In particular, travelers say they will avoid Asian destinations, even after travel bans and advisories are revoked. That means travel and travel-adjacent industries, from airlines to hotels to jet ski rentals, are likely to feel the lingering impact of the coronavirus long after containment. LEISURE TRAVELERS DEFERRING PLANS FOR MORE THAN SIX MONTHS; US TRAVELERS ARE THE MOST CAUTIOUS It may take more than six months after the containment of the virus for many travelers to reconsider their travel plans. This dent in confidence is bigger in the US than the UK. More than 50% of American travelers say they will either defer travel plans to the impacted countries for six months, or not travel at all to the affected destinations in the foreseeable future. Caution is comparatively lower in the UK, with a third of travelers saying they will defer plans to the impacted countries for more than six months. Only three in ten travelers surveyed said they would be willing to visit an affected area within three months of travel advisories being revoked. ASIA HIT HARDEST BY TRAVELER CONFIDENCE Traveler confidence in visiting Asian countries for leisure was hardest hit, with one-third of US respondents and a quarter of UK respondents claiming they are less likely than before to travel to Asia, even after the virus is contained. China, not surprisingly, was deprioritized by nearly 40% of the travelers. Southeast Asia and East Asia are more affected than the South Asian countries. Travelers from the UK, however, show greater consideration towards Southeast Asia, with a 10% higher willingness than their American counterparts. REGIONAL TRAVEL COULD SEE THE FASTEST REBOUND Given the current state of the virus, US and UK intent to travel within or around their own region should not be as severely impacted. Travelers from both countries show comfort in their respective regions. Overall, Americas, Europe, and Oceania could witness the fastest recovery. It is worth noting that claimed willingness to travel to Europe was unchanged for more than 80% of all travelers. Survey participants were less concerned about post-containment travel to Europe, despite the recent spread of the virus through Europe.News of the outbreak in Italy overlapped with the fielding period of this study—potentially creating higher confidence in European travel than the same respondents would show today. All indications point to a slow and uneven recovery for the Travel and Tourism industry. With nearly 10% of the global economy dependent on tourism, the tourism value chain will have its work cut out for itself in the months ahead. But for now, as always, the health and safety of travelers everywhere should remain the industry’s top priority. ABOUT GRAIL INSIGHTS Grail Insights is a strategic insights consultancy that supports most verticals in the tourism value chain. To learn more about Grail’s recent research on the impact of the Coronavirus on leisure travel, contact Mayank Nagpal at mayank.nagpal@grailinsights.com