Travel and Tourism: Trends and insights round-up for 2021

Cheryl Kar
December 13, 2021, 5:26 AM UTC

In this piece, we look at some of the key insights we’ve learned from our travel research in 2021, highlighting the trends sweeping the travel and tourism sector during one of its most unpredictable and challenging periods.

Intent for domestic travel in 2021

Data from YouGov Global Travel Profiles, which tracks global consumer sentiment and attitudes towards travel daily across 25 markets shows that between November 2020 and November 2021, intent for domestic trip, for both business and leisure, rose from 51% to 56% among global consumers. 

Zooming in to individual markets indicates that during this period, domestic travel intent increased from 37% to 47% in the US (+10), 46% to 51% in the UK (+5) and 54% to 58% (+4) in France.  

In the eastern market, intent for domestic travel has been slightly less pervasive. In Australia, where restrictions were tight for most of the year, domestic travel intent saw a 2-point decrease from 59% to 57%, while in Singapore it rose from 17% to 24% at its highest point in 2021.  

Over the same period, domestic travel intent dipped in Japan from 41% to 40%. In the UAE, this intent remained unchanged (November 2020: 40%; November 2021: 40%).

Our International Travel & Tourism Report – 2021 provides further insights on consumer travel preferences across 25 global markets to identify the nuances that will prove most lucrative for industry players to focus on.

Download YouGov’s International Travel & Tourism Report 2021 here.

UAE records the highest appetite for international travel in 2021 

Between November 2020 and November 2021, UAE recorded the highest appetite for international travel, for business and leisure, among the key markets in our survey. 

We found that between November 2020 and November 2021, growth in the appetite for international travel among consumers in Europe was less pervasive than those in the Middle Eastern market. 

Intent for international travel in the US registered a 3-point rise during this period (November 2020: 15%; November 2021: 18%). On the other end of the spectrum, appetite for flying overseas was found to be considerably low among consumers in Asia during this period (Australia: 24% vs 25%; Singapore: 33% vs 33%; Japan: 6% vs 6%).

What influenced people’s decision to travel this year? 

Our data shows that value for money is the most important factor (42%) in motivating Americans to plan a domestic holiday. It's also important to note here that while consumers are certainly thinking about the price of a vacation, it's more about whether the price matches the worth of the trip, not simply the dollar cost. Low costs — for example, cheap flights or hotels — rank only as the fifth most important factor among people planning to take a domestic trip this year (29%). 

And as summer approached, we focused on the top post-vaccine travel and vacation trends in the US. In this report we shed light on the rise of local tourism, the increase in demand for air travel and places that catch the eye of potential air travelers.

How does sustainability and wellness fit into travel? 

With sustainability being an important issue in 2021, we also looked at Responsible Travelers across key markets and the advertising channels that catch their attention. The data shows that when it comes to travel advertisements, this audience considers social media most effective in grabbing their attention (41%).

But, why should travel brands care? In our fall update on the travel and tourism sector, we found that more than a third of US adults are willing to pay more for a sustainable vacation (37%), indicating additional opportunities for marketers to attract new customers and offer premium products/services. 

Family vs. celebrities: Who’s more influential in promoting travel services and products? 

We've established that several factors play a role in someone’s decision to travel, including price, quality and safety. But large shares of consumers are also swayed by the recommendations from people they trust such as friends and family. 
 
YouGov data reveals that roughly three in ten consumers globally (29%) say that the strong recommendation of someone they trust plays an important role in choosing an airline to fly with. Our data also found that consumers globally also factor in such recommendations when it comes to booking hotel accommodation (36%). 

Having said that, it’s not just friends and family who influence consumers to opt for travel products and services. A survey across 17 key markets showed that close to a fifth of consumers believe that celebrities are effective at promoting travel products and services (18%) – with consumers in India and the UAE leading this list of audiences.

While new strains of the virus continue to pose a challenge to the travel industry, it’s possible that consumer sentiment around travel is poised to change once more. YouGov will keep tracking these trends to help travel brands and marketers understand more about the latest audience behaviors and attitudes.

Discover more travel and tourism insights from YouGov

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