Europeans’ travel sentiment weakens amidst a spike in COVID-19 cases and the implementation of lockdown measures across Europe, according to the European Travel Commission’s (ETC) latest report “Monitoring Sentiment for Domestic and Intra-European Travel – Wave 3”.
These monthly reports provide up-to-date information on the impact of COVID-19 on Europeans’ travel plans and preferences regarding types of destinations and experiences, holiday periods and anxieties relating to travel in the next months.
1. COVID-19 spike triggers a decline in travel plans
The share of Europeans planning to travel in the next six months falls from 54% in October’s survey wave to 49% in November, while uncertainty about the exact timing of the next trip increases by 13% in the last month. The latest survey also shows a growth in the proportion of Europeans who are not making any travel plans, which currently stands at 18%.
Notably, less than 1 in 5 (17%) of the surveyed Europeans expressed intention to travel during the upcoming winter holiday season (by the end of January 2021). This represents a sharp 21% drop compared to the previous survey showing that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and uncertainty surrounding travel measures force Europeans’ to put their travel plans on hold.
Quarantine measures remain the top concern for 15% of respondents, followed by fear of becoming ill at the destination and rising COVID-19 cases (both at 13%). Results also confirm that health and safety remain the primary consideration in Europeans’ travel plans and is especially important for respondents over 55 years old.
Air travel and public transportation at the destination continue to be regarded as the least safe parts of a journey according to 19% and 14% of respondents respectively. Bars and restaurants are also a rising concern, indicated by 11% of Europeans that took the survey.
2. A prevailing preference for holidays within Europe
Travel within Europe is the top choice with an equal share of respondents (38%) favouring domestic and intra-European trips. Leisure is the primary purpose for almost 63% of the surveyed respondents planning to travel in the short-term, while visiting friends and relatives is the primary purpose for another 22% of them. Business travel accounts for 9% of respondents.
Despite the pandemic’s effect on metropolitan areas, city breaks are still the most favoured type of trip among 19% of Europeans. Other leading preferences include holidays in nature and outdoors (15%) and travels with a focus on culture and heritage (14%). When it comes to transportation, 51% of the surveyed travellers intend to fly to their next destination, while another big share of 37% prefers travelling by car.