majority to “hold off” trips until Covid-19 vaccine available

The research carried out by the British Educational Travel Association in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh Business School found that many young people worry about the cost, risk and both financial and health safety of booking future trips as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There is a greater preference now with private travel”

The survey also found that more than half (52%) of the 1,962 respondents were concerned about the risk of being stuck abroad, while prior to the coronavirus outbreak only 29% had said the same.

“International travel remains a high priority for young people, and it is of vital importance that we take into account their concerns about safety and unlock the new way they are navigating the travel industry,” Emma English, executive director of BETA said.

Respondents indicated greater preference for destinations than have better travel and medical infrastructure, as well as those perceived to have dealt well with the crisis, senior lecturer at University of Edinburgh Business School Ben Marder noted.

“People said they wanted to travel with more reliable brands, but also those that offer full refunds and would help out if they needed to get home in an emergency,” he said.

“There is a greater preference now, compared with before, with private travel – travel that doesn’t involve being surrounded by lots of strangers such as car rental or driving an owned car.”

Additionally, the research found that motivation for travelling has changed during the pandemic, with more importance given on traveling to spend time with loved ones.

“Young people are being driven more by what is important, travelling to spend time with loved ones and doing so in an eco-friendly way, rather than the doing it for the perfect Instagram post,” Marder said.

Interest in eco options has increased as travellers have reflected on the “fragility of planet” during Covid-19, Marder suggested.

“Since Covid, there have been a lot of reports on CO2 emissions having gone down, as planes have stopped flying, the world has been healing.

“I am sure that has got into the psyches of travellers and they are starting to reassess… [and think] we should try for more eco-friendly options.”

According to Marder, “modest changes” in consumer preferences should be a comfort to marketers.

“They don’t need to screw up their current marketing plans and throw them in the bin, it’s more of a case of altering them based on the small shifts.”

By considering why domestic tourism is set to rise, marketers should “think about why domestic tourism is going to be so popular and can we communicate similar reasons for international destinations”.

“Travel is different to going down the high street and buying a pair of trainers… but what is happening in retail is certainly encouraging,” Marder added.

“Our results were quite pessimistic as to when people will start travelling. We collected that data at the peak of the crisis when most people were really scared. Now there is light at the end of the tunnel, things are starting to be relaxed. The outlook now would be more positive if we collected this today.”

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