Francine Abgrall, Group Head of Travel at Europ Assistance commented: “We have been sponsoring the Ipsos Holiday Barometer for two decades and we think this is the most important one we have commissioned. As we see the impact of the pandemic lingering into a second summer travel season, there is room for optimism. Several European countries are expecting increases in summer travel over 2019 numbers. Almost 70 per cent of Europeans see travel returning to normal over the next three years. This year’s Holiday Barometer shows that people are excited to see and hug their families again (58 per cent) and back to the simple activities like eating in a restaurant (40 per cent).”
Key takeaways from the survey show that overall, 57 per cent of Europeans expect to travel during the usual summer holiday period; a six-per-cent drop from 2019. Even with the drop, more Europeans expect to travel than Americans, Chinese or Thais. Some countries are seeing double-digit drops in summer travel plans, such as Germany (-21 points), United Kingdom (-14 points) and Belgium (-12 points). Other European countries are seeing a rise in travel desire including Italy (+6 points) and Poland (+5 points).
The good news for travel insurers is that there is an increased focus on travel insurance due to the pandemic: over 45 per cent of Europeans reported they would increase their travel insurance coverage as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
Europeans travel budgets take a bigger hit than American
Overall, European travel budgets dropped over 20 per cent from 2019, but American budgets only dropped two per cent. The biggest drops in were seen in Spain (-30 per cent), France (-26 per cent), Germany (-25 per cent) and Austria (-21 per cent). Portugal was the only country from the 2019 survey in which travel budgets stayed the same.
The Study showed that the British, Belgians and Americans lead the world in travel optimism with most of them seeing travel returning to normal in 2022 or 2023. The Czechs, Poles and French lead the survey when it comes to those who think travel will never return to normal.
Upcoming travel plans show staycations rule
The Holiday Barometer showed that Europeans are still heading to the seaside – topping all areas with 58 per cent of respondents. Trips to the countryside (26 per cent) and the mountains (24 per cent) each gained four points from 2019 and are closing the gap. Europeans continue to favor spending their holidays within their home country (47 per cent, while for those traveling outside of their country, the top destinations are Spain, France and Italy, which historically have been top three are the traditional survey leaders.
Some countries that traditionally lead the survey in traveling abroad saw large increases in those staying within their borders for summer holidays compared to 2019. For example, Belgians staying in Belgium grew 17 points up to 32 per cent, while the number of Swiss travellers were up 15 points and UK respondents were up 16 points.
While they lead the survey in the desire to travel, Europeans trail the pack when it comes to actually booking holiday travel. Only 35 per cent of European respondents had booked any part of their summer travel by the time they completed the survey, compared with 47 per cent of Americans, 37 per cent of Chinese and 50 er cent of Thai respondents having booked travel. The Italians are among the fewest to have booked their holiday travel at 23 per cent, whereas UK residents lead in Europe at 56 per cent.
The survey was conducted by Ipsos, a global market research firm, among 14,000 people across 14 countries and three continents. It tracks global travel trends and this 2021 edition features questions about the impact of the pandemic on several areas including attitudes toward travel. The survey was taken in May 2021.