Almost 80% of Americans say they will not be traveling by airplane this holiday season, and 29% believe they won’t book their next international trip until 2022. These were findings from the 2020 Holiday and Virtual Travel Report released today by Beeyonder, a virtual travel startup on a mission to foster memorable travel experiences for people with disabilities or conditions that prevent or inhibit their ability to travel.
The initial rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S and select global countries has airlines and travel providers hopeful that consumers might be increasing confidence in traveling again in 2021. However, despite a rising sense of optimism leading into the holidays that COVID-19 could be largely mitigated by the summer, caution persists amongst many Americans, with many reporting that they’ve turned to safer means of seeing the world as the virus continues to spread fears.
In fact, with 7-out-of-10 U.S. consumers saying they have increased anxiety around travel since the pandemic, 60% note they’ve either participated or considered a virtual travel experience. With an absence of travelers, tourism boards, hotels, and destinations have turned to virtual technologies to engage would-be visitors and prepare them for a long road to recovery. And what began as a temporary remedy may become a long-term solution due to our earlier finding that most Americans don’t plan on traveling until at least 2022.
“Digital tools have been the saving grace for many since the pandemic began,'' said Brittany Palmer, CEO and founder of Beeyonder. “Whether it be grandparents getting to see their grandchildren on FaceTime, or colleagues collaborating via Zoom, new technology advancements have empowered people to stay connected despite social distancing mandates and stay-at-home orders. This holiday season, as the virus cancels many people’s traditional travel plans, virtual travel is now enabling friends and family to satisfy their wanderlust together and see the world within the comfort and safety of their homes.”
Additional highlights of Beeyonder’s 2020 Holiday & Virtual Travel Report include:
- 70% of Americans report that their anxiety around traveling has increased somewhat since the pandemic began, and 40% admit that it has increased substantially.
- 30% of respondents say flying is the facet of traveling that makes them feel most unsafe.
- As health officials hint at an end to the pandemic in 2021, 48% of Americans say that the fact that it’s cheaper to travel virtually than in-person would entice them to engage more in virtual travel experiences post-pandemic.
- 44% added that they would be more likely to engage more in virtual travel post-pandemic for health and safety reasons, admitting that they would feel safer traveling virtually than in-person.
- When asked which of the Seven Wonders of the World would they visit first through a virtual tour, there was a tight race between the Great Wall of China (21%) and the Taj Mahal (20%), as well as Machu Picchu and the Colosseum which both received 18% of the votes.
Additionally, over one-in-five respondents (21%) say that they’re definitely interested in taking a virtual travel experience with a family member or close friend who couldn’t travel due to illness, a condition, or a disability.
“There are 40 million-plus Americans that want to travel but can’t, or have limitations due to a disability or other condition,” added Palmer. “I’m excited to see demand grow for virtual travel options this holiday season as everyone experiences what it’s like not to be able to travel physically. However, we shouldn’t lose sight of providing long-term virtual travel options for those who want to travel but can’t, whether it be those with disabilities, the elderly, or sick.”
View the entire Beeyonder 2020 Holiday & Virtual Travel Report here.