Update 01/07/22: Ohio's Travel Industry and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
REVIEW OF HOW OMICRON IMPACTED HOLIDAY TRAVEL; DESPITE RECORD COVID CASES IN U.S., TRAVEL SENTIMENT HAS IMPROVED; WHAT'S IN STORE FOR TRAVEL IN 2022
Key findings from Destination Analysts fielded Dec. 26 - 28, 2021
- First, let's review what happened over the holidays, and what can we learn about what the future may hold. Omicron did impact holiday and other future travel. The number of American travelers reporting that that the situation with the Omicron variant has impacted their travel continued to grow—to 32.9%, up from 30.9% two weeks prior. Of the group of travelers who were impacted, 50.7% say they have postponed one or more trips and 43.5% say they have flat-out cancelled a trip(s).
- When asked the week of December 13th, 29.8% of American travelers said they planned to travel over the Christmas holiday. However, when asked if they had in fact traveled over the holiday, only 23.3% actually did. While one-in-five (20.7%) continued to report that they would travel over the New Year’s holiday, there was still a 5-point decline in the percent of American travelers who said they would take leisure trips in January (to 15.1% from 20.7% two weeks ago).
- Nevertheless, leisure travel appeared robust in the last quarter of the year overall, with over one-third of American travelers taking at least one overnight leisure trip during this period and 33.6% reporting taking an overnight trip to visit friends or relatives.
- What's in store for 2022? Unfortunately, COVID still looms large. Currently, 25% of travelers are experiencing stronger levels of anxiety, the highest rate we've seen since October 27. Nearing half (46.3%) feel that the pandemic in America will get worse or much worse in the next month, which is up over 20 points since last fall.
- Firm confidence in travel safety has also declined. 38.2% say they are confident or very confident in their ability to travel safety in the current environment, down 10 points from November 12. Americans feeling higher degrees of normalcy in their ability to travel as they like dropped to 31%, which is the lowest it has been since September 29. Plus, 27.5% say it's likely that Omicron will impact their travel over the next 6 months.
- Despite record COVID cases in the US and a holiday period of massive flight cancellations, Americans' overall travel sentiment has actually improved. Those in a ready-to-travel state of mind rose to 77.9%, up from 76% December 13 and among the highest levels since the start of the pandemic. The proportions avoiding conferences/conventions and international travel have both declined (now at 50.5% and 60.6% respectively).
- Just 38.2% say they don't want tourists in their own communities right now - meaning Omicron did not impact local sentiment towards tourism to the same degree that Delta or the original virus strain did.
- While Omicron has and will impact travel, thus far it has not quelled Americans' interest in travel in the ways previous COVID surges did. In fact, fewer now say that news about Omicron cases make them less interested in traveling (50.1%, down from 54.3%).
- Strong excitement for leisure travel grew to 69.2%. Americans are also increasingly enthusiastic to learn about new travel experiences (61.1%). They are also willing to make the financial commitment for travel - 35.5% feel that now is a good time to spend on travel and 57.7% will prioritize spending on travel in the next three months.
- More than 30% of American travelers expect to take more leisure trips in 2022 than 2021 and the average American traveler plans to spend $3,912 on their travel this year. In Q1 of 2022 alone, 46% say they will take at least one leisure trip and 11.1% say they will take at least one business trip.
- American travelers will have a firm focus on fun. When asked about their travel in 2022, Americans' most say they will prioritize having fun (75.8%), followed by relaxing (69.2%), finding happiness (64.1%) and escaping stress (60.9%).
- For the majority of American travelers, the travel experiences they will highly prioritize are spending time with loved ones, enjoying nature, going to new places they have not been before and getting away from the crowds.
PREDICTED MARKET POTENTIAL FOR CULTURAL ENTITIES IN 2022
Key findings from IMPACTS Research published Jan. 5, 2022
- Exhibit-based cultural organizations include entities such as museums, historic sites, aquariums, zoos, botanic gardens, and science centers. The actual attendance to these types of cultural entities in the United States averaged 79.7% of 2019 attendance in 2021 (up from 40.5% of 2019 attendance in 2020). As of January 2022, the current market potential for exhibit-based organizations for the calendar year 2022 is 95.5% of their 2019 attendance.
- In other words, a generic exhibit-based organization that welcomed 100,000 visitors onside in 2019 should expect to similarly engage 95,500 visitors in 2022.
- Current projections have exhibit-based organizations achieving 2019 quarterly numbers in the second and third quarters of 2023.
- Market potential is based upon potential attendance. While it contemplates known limiting constraints such as they may exist today (including variant infection information, vaccination uptake, predictions of how long conditions will last, back-to-work schedules, etc.), it is unable to contemplate with certainty previously unknown factions or conditions.
Travel Research Round-Up
Happy New Year! Take a look at the latest trends and traveler sentiments in a one-page research summary, including some updates on how the Omicron variant has and will impact travel sentiment.