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Update 12/17/21: Ohio's Travel Industry and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Travel Research


Key findings from Destination Analysts fielded Dec. 8 - 10, 2021

  • With the Omicron variant front and center in the news while the holidays approach, American travelers are feeling more anxious and less optimistic about the near-term. Those that expect the pandemic situation to get worse in the U.S. over the next month rose nearly 10 percentage points in the last two weeks to 42.6%, and about two-thirds now say that another significant wave is likely to occur in the next three months (another ~10-point increase). Belief in COVID’s long-term presence jumped to over 70%. 
  • While 76% of American travelers remain in a ready-to-travel state of mind, this is down from 82% October 15th, when this metric recovered from the Delta variant. In fact, well over half of American travelers say the recent news about the Omicron variant make them less interested in traveling right now.
  • High excitement levels about a potential getaway in the next month has declined 3 percentage points in the last two weeks to 65.7%. Similarly, those highly excited as they look out over their leisure travel in the next year has fallen 4.1 percentage points to 67.2%.
  • Openness to travel inspiration is at 59.7%, falling from 64.0% November 26th. In Destination Analysts’ Travel Marketing Sentiment Index, the impact of the Omicron variant is now apparent, although the declines have not dipped to the lows of the Delta-variant period.

  • Right now, 30.9% of American travelers say that the Omicron variant has impacted their travel in some way—37.2% of this group saying they have cancelled an upcoming trip and 47.3% saying they have postponed–and among those that have not been impacted, 26.8% say it’s likely that they will be eventually.
  • American travelers’ expected number of overnight trips in the next 3 months year has fallen from 2.7 to 2.0 since November 26th, while expected day trips has declined to 1.9 from 2.7. Fewer Americans report dreaming and planning travel recently, dropping from 70.8% two weeks ago to 64.2%. Nevertheless, about 30% of American travelers say they plan to take a trip over the Christmas holiday (similar to Thanksgiving 2021), up from 17.4% who reported they would take a Christmas trip back in 2020.
  • American travelers report a decreasing sense of normalcy this week and those highly concerned about contracting COVID-19 has increased over 5 percentage points to 61.8%. The course the Omicron variant takes could also potentially weaken confidence in vaccine protection against COVID-19. Amongst vaccinated American travelers, 60.5% report feeling confident in their vaccination’s protection against COVID, down slightly from 62.0% the week of November 29th.
  • The average safety perceptions of travel and leisure activities is down from 47.5% to 44.6%, with taking a cruise, staying in a hotel, and going shopping showing some declines in safety perceptions.
  • This week 33.9% say that their ability to travel is returning to or completely normal, compared to 37.8% the week of November 29th. Nearly 70% of American travelers say they will be more careful during their upcoming trips because of the Omicron variant.
  • The average American traveler continues to report a sense of financial wellness. Nearly half say that travel will be a high priority in their budget over the next 3 months and the mean reported annual travel budget is $3,746.
  • Over a quarter of American travelers (26.1%) have used a Visitor Information Center in the past 12 months. 61.5% feel that it is “important” or “very important” for a destination to have a Visitor Information Center and another 48.9% report that they are likely to use this resource in the next 12 months.


Key findings from Longwoods International published Dec. 14, 2021

  • 27% of American travelers report postponing some of their trips due to the Omicron variant. 
  • A 5% spike in those American travelers report COVID as a factor that greatly impacts their travels. 
  • Financial concerns have increased by 5% in two months. 
  • Changing travel plans due to the pandemic are up in 5% in two months. 
  • On the bright side, only 10% of American travelers say that they are cancelling trips.
  • 68% of holiday season travelers plan to visit friends and relatives, while 60% plan to go shopping. 
  • 35% of travelers surveyed have remote work plans within the next 12 to 24 months. In May of 2021, this figure was 29%. 


Key findings from AAA published Dec. 14, 2021

  • AAA predicts the largest year-end holiday travel increase on record with more than 109 million Americans (4.4 million Ohioans) expected to travel 50 miles or more between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2.
  • These numbers are 34% higher (33% in Ohio) than last year and the fourth highest year-end holiday travel volume on record (behind 2019, 2018 and 2017 respectively).
  • Road trips remain the top mode of travel during the holidays, with 91% of travelers (92% of Ohio travelers) planning to drive to their destinations, despite elevated gas prices. 
  • As for air travel, AAA expects it to jump 184% nationally (181% in Ohio) from last year, with 6.4 million Americans (nearly 232,000 Ohioans), planning to fly this holiday season. This nearly tripled 2020 year-end holiday air travel numbers and within 87% of 2019's pre-pandemic numbers (90% in Ohio). 


Driven by Tourism Economics' travel forecasting model, the Fall 2021 travel forecast projects that domestic leisure travel will surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2022 and beyond. Domestic business travel spending is expected to reach 76% of 2019 levels in 2022, while the segment is not expected to fully recover until 2024. International inbound travel spending is forecasted to reach 72% of 2019 levels in 2022, and to fully recover only in 2024 or 2025. 

View US Travel forecast here.

Travel Research Round-Up

This week's latest trends and traveler sentiments in a one-page research summary, including some updates on the new Omicron variant. 

 View Research Round-Up Here

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