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Family Travel Association/NYU School of Professional Studies 2021 Family Travel Survey results are in

Travel demand is strong after a steep decline in 2020. Cleanliness, clear communications and flexible cancellations top family wish list for current and future travel; Strong interest in vacation rentals and domestic destinations.

NEW YORK – The 2021 U.S. Family Travel Survey conducted by the Family Travel Association (FTA) in collaboration with the NYU School of Professional Studies has just been published and focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family travel behaviors, preferences, and attitudes. 

According to the survey, 88% of parents are likely to travel with their children in the next 12 months, while 80% of the respondents made changes to their travel plans due to the pandemic. This is not surprising considering that Covid-19 has upended the travel industry. As long as there continues to be clear communications and flexible cancellation policies, families will be making travel plans – and using travel advisors more now than ever before. 

The 2021 U.S. Family Travel Survey represents responses from 2,365 parents in June and July 2021 and was conducted by the Family Travel Association (FTA) and the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality. The survey was circulated via the mailing list of MacaroniKid, a publishing platform that provides local activity guides and news for more than 3 million families across the U.S. The study’s sponsor was Celebrity Cruises. This is the sixth year for this annual survey.

“The 2021 US Family Travel Survey shows that while some family travel patterns have remained the same, there have also been significant changes due to the pandemic. Overwhelmingly, US families report they want clear communications from travel businesses: for example, while some families look for reassurance that health protocols are being followed, others want to know in advance if any amenities will be closed or have restricted access.” said Dr. Lynn Minnaert, Clinical Associate Professor at the Tisch Center.

“With this report, the FTA is continuing its series of annual surveys to help our industry better understand the needs, expectations and projected behaviors of traveling families,” said Rainer Jenss, FTA Founder. “The COVID-19 global pandemic had a major impact on the travel industry during most of 2020 and 2021. In fact, the lingering effects of border closures, mask mandates and vaccines will probably continue to play a major role in how people plan, book, and travel for many months if not years to come.”

Some of this year’s survey highlights include:

  • Travel Demand is strong after a steep decline in 2020 with 88% of parents likely to travel with their children in the next 12 months.
  • In contrast, only 44% of respondents took a family trip in 2020. 80% made changes to their travel plans due to the pandemic.
  • Domestic travel has rebounded and, not surprising, international travel is weaker. 83% of respondents plan to take a multi-day vacation in the U.S., whereas only 19% plan to take an international trip.
  • In terms of the types of trips: visiting family and friends (62%) and beach vacations (61%) are the top two choices; then theme/water parks and state/national parks.
  • Preferred accommodations: 1) hotels 2) vacation rentals 3) resorts
  • A change induced by the pandemic is that families report they pay more attention to cancellation policies and to health and safety considerations when choosing travel destinations. 80% of respondents will only book travel with companies that have flexible cancellation policies in place.
  • Good news for travel agents: 65% of those surveyed say they would consider using a travel advisor for their family travel needs in the next two years.
  • Covid-19 continues to cause travel concerns: limitations on activities and amenities and concerns about vaccine and health protocols adherence in the destination
  • On the question of vaccine passports, 53% agree or strongly agree with them and 28% disagree.
  • Regarding air travel, respondents were asked if they were willing to fly at the time of taking the survey. 72% of respondents are willing to fly on a domestic trip and 40% on an international trip. Only 15% of respondents are unwilling to fly on an international trip, as 45% of respondents say they are not planning international travel at this time.
Vicky Karantzavelou
Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.

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