New research spanning 28,000+ travellers across 28 countries and territories reveals the travel hopes and anticipation among people in Singapore and around the world in the wake of vaccine roll-outs, following a year of restrictions.
Singapore – The impact that COVID-19 has had on our daily lives has made the past year one of the hardest we’ve had to endure. Maintaining distance and staying home has become part of the new normal. While tough days may still be ahead, new research reveals that our appetite to explore the world remains undiminished and after months of restrictions, Singaporean travellers are finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to the roll-out of vaccines, the development of other break-through medical advances in the battle against COVID-19 and ongoing discussions on possible air travel bubbles.
With a mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, leading digital travel platform Booking.com reveals insights from more than 28,000 travellers across 28 countries and territories, including Singapore,* to uncover what travellers feel most hopeful about as it becomes safe to travel again, and what support they believe the travel industry needs to get back on its feet.
Travellers’ optimism returns as vaccines fuel hope
Despite knowing that the pandemic finish line hasn’t been reached just yet, seven in ten Singaporean travellers (71%) feel more hopeful about traveling in 2021 due to the unwavering commitment of the scientific and medical communities and the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, and potential air travel bubble developments. The same amount (70%) state that not being able to travel extensively in 2020 has made them yearn for travel even more in 2021.
The trust in vaccines runs deep, with slightly over half (63%) of Singaporean travellers stating that they won’t travel internationally until they have been vaccinated, which rises to 69% among those 55+ years old, while a greater amount (67%) of Singaporean travellers will only travel to countries that have implemented vaccination programs. But there still is some hesitation, with almost half (52%) remaining sceptical as to whether a vaccine will truly help make travel safer.
Travel wins in post-pandemic priorities
Despite feeling mostly optimistic, travellers all around the world acknowledge that not being able to travel in 2020 like they used to in previous years has had a significant effect on their well-being, with over half (52%) of Singaporean travellers reporting a negative impact on their mental health and 47% having felt imprisoned in their own home due to travel restrictions.
65% of Singaporean travellers also say travel is more important to them now than it was before the pandemic. So much so that almost two thirds (65%) of Singaporean travellers would even go so far as stating that they would rather go on a vacation in 2021 than find true love. Meanwhile 59% would prioritise traveling over success at work, preferring to go on vacation than get promoted.
Six in ten (62%) Singaporean travellers have used the increased time at home to plan future travel while slightly over half (54%) have banked more vacation days, so are excited about the potential of taking longer vacations in 2021. When dreaming about their next vacation, 51% of Singaporean travellers feel confident that they’ll be able to hit the beach by summer 2021, and 18% say a relaxing beach or spa trip will be the first type of trip when it’s safe to do so. After an exhausting year only 9% will book a city break and just 5% say an active break is a priority.
A joint effort for a common goal
To help travellers safely rediscover the destinations they long for, there appears to be a consensus that governments, travellers and the wider travel ecosystem need to work together.
Following the impact that COVID-19 has had on the travel industry, 96% of Singaporean travellers think the industry needs to be supported to get back on its feet. Nearly three quarters (74%) believe that government financial stimuli are now needed to help travel’s recovery and over two thirds (69%) worry that the industry won’t survive unless it is supported with government grants.
In terms of more practical regulations, 75% state that wider access to pre-travel COVID-19 testing is needed, and 73% say that governments should collaborate with travel associations and providers to set more consistent standards.
Whilst 70%** Booking.com’s accommodation partners surveyed are cautiously optimistic about the future of their business, they share travellers’ mindset that the industry needs support, as the majority of them would like to see governments do more in the future to support the travel industry during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Three key areas that need to be addressed, according to properties of all types and sizes, are more consistent international standards when it comes to travel advice & rules, speeding up vaccine roll-out programmes and wider access to pre-travel COVID-19 testing**.
But with 62%** of accommodation providers expecting to see an increase in interest for travel for 2021, they continue to do their part to ensure travellers feel safe, with almost 70%** having increased health & safety measures and improved cleaning processes.
Accommodation providers are not the only ones willing to roll up their sleeves, with 60% of Singaporean travellers willing to accept only being able to travel if they could prove they have been vaccinated. Meanwhile 71% would accept having to wear a face mask when traveling, with 61% going as far as supporting a ‘no mask no travel’ ban (unless exempt). Two thirds (68%) would be willing to only travel in small groups of 2-6 people.
To support the travel industry more directly, 25% of Singaporean travellers plan to use travel credits / vouchers from cancelled trips instead of requesting a refund and 22% will buy vouchers for family and friends for them to use when it’s safe to travel again. Meanwhile, 28% plan to choose less frequented destinations and 27% want to book independent accommodations or accommodations in or near their hometown to support local businesses (32%).
Nuno Guerreiro, Booking.com Regional Director, South Asia, Oceania & Chains at Booking.com comments: “As we start to see a light at the end of the tunnel, we remain firmly committed to supporting everyone on their journey to getting back to travel, as soon as it’s safe to do so. We have grown over the past year navigating the pandemic, as our consumers have too, and we're optimistic that we'll be able to experience the world together again soon as we work together with all those in the travel industry to ensure its recovery. With our mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, when the time is right to discover the places, cultures and experiences we’ve all been dreaming of, we will make sure you can find them on Booking.com.”
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who are planning to travel in the next 12 months. In total 28,042 respondents across 28 countries and territories were polled (including 1003 from Argentina, 1002 from Australia, 1000 from Brazil, 1001 from Canada, 1000 from China, 1002 from Colombia, 1001 from Croatia, 1003 from Denmark, 1002 from France, 1005 from Germany, 1004 from Hong Kong, 1000 from India, 1002 from Israel, 1000 from Italy, 1000 from Japan, 1002 from Mexico, 1000 from Netherlands, 1000 from New Zealand, 1003 from Russia, 1000 from Singapore, 1003 from South Korea, 1005 from Spain, 1001 from Sweden, 1000 from Taiwan, 1003 from Thailand, 1000 from UK, 1000 from USA and 1000 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in January 2021.
**Research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of Booking.com accommodation partners. In total 3,491 respondents across 20 countries and territories were polled (including 86 in Australia, 85 in Austria, 177 in Brazil, 12 in China, 212 in Croatia, 395 in France, 296 in Germany, 136 in Greece, 109 in India, 69 in Indonesia, 492 in Italy, 79 in Japan, 55 in Mexico, 120 in Poland, 96 in Portugal, 197 in Russia, 353 in Spain, 65 in Thailand, 218 in UK and 241 in US). Respondents completed an online survey in February 2021.