Future travel intentions
Several organisations in the tourism industry have been testing the mood of the nation when it comes to future travel. How quickly will we want to go abroad again? Are we prepared to use public transport to visit London’s many attractions? When do we think we might next venture into a theatre or concert venue? Have travellers lost confidence in cruises? And are gardens likely to bounce back first?
Fiona Horan looks at some of the surveys so far.
Association of Leading Visitor Attractions
The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) questioned over 900 UK residents in mid-May. Their principal discoveries were that potential visitors have actually become more cautious than at the beginning of the lockdown, with outdoor attractions preferred. Theme parks, stately homes and museums/art galleries have reason to be concerned with 51%, 45% and 43% respectively of respondents saying that they were “unlikely to want to visit for a long time”. Gardens fared much better.
In the eyes of the public, top safety priorities are:-
- Limiting visitor numbers on site, primarily at indoor attractions
- Be seen to be implementing and monitoring policing distancing measures on site
- Toilets and indoor cafés
- Interactive exhibits or anything that visitors touch
- Hand sanitiser around the site and staff visibly cleaning
Generally, visitors don’t expect discounted prices, with many accepting the possibility of increased entrance fees, providing capacity is controlled to allow social distancing. Concerns around using public transport to visit attractions is high, particularly underground trains and buses.
Meanwhiile, VisitBritain‘s latest weekly survey has uncovered that:-
- 30% of respondents expect ‘normality’ by September, and 53% by December.
- 51% of intended regions to be visited between now and September are coastal areas, followed by city/large towns (28%) and countryside/village (28%).
- People are seeking reassurances from hotels, led by enhanced cleaning regimes (82%), booking incentives (79%) and social distancing measures (76%). The single most important factor is having the ability to cancel the booking free-of-charge if required.
- As restrictions lift, outdoor areas and activities (e.g. beaches, trails, theme parks) look set to attract higher than usual levels of visitors than normal, while predominantly indoor activities/venues (e.g. restaurants, spas, museums, galleries) are likely to face a lengthier period of subdued demand.
Consultancy firm BVA BDRC are conducting weekly surveys of over 1700 adults on the impact of COVID-19 on the travel, leisure and hospitality industries. Some of the main findings of the latest survey include:-
- Intention to take a UK holiday dips for the 2nd consecutive week
- Over 50% of residents feel uncomfortable with day-trippers or holiday makers coming to their region from other regions
- 65% of people feel uncomfortable about overseas visitors coming to their area
- Despite quarantining coming in, 10% of people intend to travel overseas in the next three months
The survey also reports on major dissatisfaction with airline Ryanair’s flight cancellation refund policy, with many on social media complaining that they have been waiting for months for their money back.
Silver Travel Advisor
Good news for those attractions and tour operators aiming at the older travel market. Silver Travel Advisor, a travel review and advice website aimed at the over-50s, has discovered that 81% of older travellers are keen to travel again, and the vast majority have largely, or entirely, been unaffected financially by the pandemic.
In terms of ocean cruising, 44% have enjoyed an ocean cruise before and are already re-booked; would like to cruise again when things return to normal; or have never taken an ocean cruise but would like to (12% of the 44%).
In terms of river cruising, 55% have enjoyed river cruising before and have already re-booked; would like to return when things are back to normal; or have never taken a river cruise but would like to (37% of the 55%).
31% of respondents expect to book a flight in six to 12 months, while 29% expect to book a UK holiday and 35% expect to book an overseas holiday.
And, finally, a survey of festival-goers from several countries including the UK has been conducted by the online travel agency Festicket. They discovered that two-thirds of those surveyed say they would go to a festival within one to three months and 30% would do so immediately. 59% would feel confident attending an international festival if travel routes were opened up. As with many other travellers, festival enthusiasts say that free cancellation of their bookings would be a key consideration.
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