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When polled by Coresight Research in late February, nearly half of US internet users were avoiding public transportation and international travel, and more than two-thirds expected to steer clear of these travel methods as the coronavirus outbreak worsened.
Fear of infection, travel bans, and economic struggles concerned those traveling for leisure, and event cancellation and work-from-home orders were leading reasons for the suspension of business travel.
However, as shelter-in-place orders have been gradually removed in areas with low infection rates, and as warmer weather in many areas has enticed movement by those confined in their homes, there seems to be potential for a rebound by the travel industry. As of May 31, one-fifth of travelers surveyed by tourism marketing and market research company Destination Analysts said they were already traveling or were prepared to do so again.
There are still unknowns – such as future economic conditions, the availability of a vaccine, and the enforcement of safety protocols – that could influence the likelihood of travel. For now, marketers will have to try new approaches to build customer trust and fulfill changing consumer needs required by the pandemic.
In the report Travel in Times of COVID-19, eMarketer explores how travel is gradually recovering from the effects of the coronavirus and discusses which pandemic-related trends can be expected to persist.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- US and UK digital travel sales in 2020 will both fall by nearly 50% and won't get back to pre-pandemic levels until 2022. But UK digital travel sales will see a greater dip this year as the UK's lockdowns were more aggressive, making it more difficult for them to rebound economically.
- Not all sectors of the travel industry have been impacted equally by the pandemic. Food services in particular are expected to suffer the greatest spending losses in 2020, followed by lodging and air transportation.
- Rideshare company Lyft experienced a 70% decline in rides in Q1 and were still down 75% in the second week of April. Their main competitor, Uber, experienced an even greater slump as rides went down 80% in mid-April, but they were able to stay afloat due to their Eats food delivery service.
- In a May poll by GlobalWebIndex, 46% Internet users said they would prefer domestic vacation, followed by 20% or said they would like a local "staycation" when asked about their travel preferences for the next 12 months. This demonstrates less of an interest in international travel after the pandemic and a greater desire to stay close to home.
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