PARIS – Europ Assistance announced the international findings of their 21st edition of the Holiday Barometer. The survey was conducted by Ipsos, a global market research firm, among 15,000 people across 15 countries. It tracks global travel trends. The survey was taken between April 26 and May 16, 2022.
Julia Ricks, Head of International Travel at Europ Assistance Group, commented on the findings: “This year’s travel intentions reflect a real excitement for travel, surpassing pre-pandemics levels, especially in Europe. Compared to 2021, we observed a significant return to international travel and higher average holiday budgets, supported by a significant decrease in COVID-19 related issues that favors airplane trips and an increased demand in hotel stays. Ongoing inflation hasn’t stopped but contained travel enthusiasm after two years of restrictions, but inflation is the most significant travel concern this year. Early bookings and the importance of being covered with trip insurance appear to holidaymakers new habits that could become permanent.”
- 72% of Europeans feel “really excited to travel” or “happy to travel” this year; overall, with 71% of Europeans intending to travel during the summer, which represents a +14pts increase compared to 2021.
- Holidaymakers are spending more money this summer: they report a higher travel budget this year than they did in 2021, with average levels increasing around +20%. This remains lower than pre-pandemics levels. This leads to return to a number of pre-Covid travel habits, such as:
- Appeal of travel abroad increasing significantly: 48% (+13pts) of Europeans, 36% (+11pts) of Americans and 56% (+7pts) of Thais intend to travel abroad this summer. Nevertheless, domestic travel remains at higher level than 2019 in almost all the countries.
- City adventures are popular again: they appear as the most popular type of destination for North Americans.
- Hotels continue to be the preferred choice for accommodation (52% of holidaymakers in US, 46% / +9pts in Europe) while vacation rentals remain attractive (30% in Europe, 20% in USA).
- Air travel is back: Europeans will use their car less than last year (55%, -9pts) and favor air travel (33%, +11pts). Same goes for Americans, in more balanced proportions (48%, -7pts vs 43%, +5pts).
- People are back to planning vacation ahead of time, rather than leaving it till last minute: only 22% of Europeans have not yet decided on their destination(-10pts vs last year).
- Covid-19 is no longer the first concern for European and North American travelers, overpassed by both inflation and personal / family reasons concerns.
- Concerns about inflation and price increases are much present in peoples’ mind: financial considerations are mentioned as one of the main reasons not to travel by 41% of Europeans who won’t be going on a trip this summer (+14pts vs 2021), 45% of Americans (+9pts) and 34% of Thais (+10pts).
- With an ever-growing awareness of travel-related cancellations and health concerns, Covid-19 has transformed travel insurance purchases into a durable trend that should continue well beyond the pandemic period.
Travel expectations are increasing significantly compared to last year, with levels often higher than in 2019
After two years of restrictions, international holidaymakers show strong enthusiasm to travel this summer: 72% of Europeans feel “really excited to travel” or “happy to travel” this year. Austrians, Swiss and Spaniards are the ones who show the most excitement (around 4 out of 10 who says they are even very excited).
Overall, 71% of Europeans intend to travel during the summer, which represents a 14 point increase compared to 2021. The most important changes are observed in Spain (78%, +20 pts), Germany (61%, +19 pts), Belgium (71%, +18 pts) and in the United Kingdom (68%, +18 pts).
The proportion of holidaymakers in Europe is even higher than pre-pandemic (around 63%-64% in 2017, 2018 and 2019, +8/9 pts), except for Germany. The evolutions are particularly impressive in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Poland and Switzerland.
More Europeans expect to take trips than North Americans (60% in the US, +10pts; 61% in Canada) or Thais (69%, +25pts).
Average summer holiday budget should be higher than in 2021, but this increase is limited by inflation
Holidaymakers will have a bigger travel budget this year than they did in 2021: Americans intend to spend an additional $440, for a total budget of around $2,760 (+19% vs 2021). In Europe, the expected holiday budget is around €1,800 (+220€, +14% vs 2021). The budget increase compared to 2021 is particularly important in Spain (+20%), Germany, Portugal and Belgium (+15%).
However, the average holiday budget remains lower in most countries than it did in 2019: around 400 euros lower in France, €300 in Spain and €340 in Germany for instance.
Concerns about inflation and price increases are impacting holidaymakers and their desire to travel: it is the case for 69% of Europeans, 62% of Americans, 70% of Canadians, 63% of Australians and 77% of Thais. Furthermore, financial considerations are mentioned as one of the main reasons not to travel by the 41% of Europeans who won’t be going on a trip this summer (+14pts vs 2021), 45% of Americans (+9%) and 34% of Thais (+10pts).
While Covid-19 is still a consideration for travelers, it has receded as a concern
The global level of concern regarding all COVID-19 related topics has strongly decreased compared to last year, especially for travel and leisure plans. The level of caution decreased significantly when it comes to considering avoiding crowded places (-18pts in Europe, -16pts in USA) or airports during a trip.
This decrease in COVID-19 related concerns led to a boost for cities, which are now the most popular type of destination for North Americans (44%, +9pts). In Europe, cities remain far behind the seaside (26% vs 60%) but come ahead of the countryside and mountains as a travel destination.
This decrease also boosts the demand in hotels in Northern America and Europe, as the part of holidaymakers mostly planning to stay in this kind of accommodation raises by +9pts in Europe (46%) and by +4pts in USA (52%). Hotels remain the preferred type of accommodation for holidays in these two areas. The part of vacation rentals remains stable.
That said, 53% of Europeans and 46% of Americans said that COVID-19 has had an impact on their enthusiasm for travel. It is particularly high among the Canadians or the Australians (60%) and even more among the Thai population (81%). People around the world share that they will probably avoid travelling in certain countries (63% of the Europeans for instance), favor close destinations (54%) or that they will avoid flying and going to airports (38%).
In almost all countries observed, the average level of early booking rose, with far more people booking their holidays sooner than last year.
COVID-19 may also have impacted long-term travel insurance habits, as greater protection with travel insurance is the travel habit that appears to be the most durable in almost all countries surveyed. These levels are particularly high in Asia Pacific (Thailand 75%, Australia 54%), in UK (49%) or in Southern Europe (Spain 50%, Italy and Portugal 45%).
A Boost in International Travel
Compared to last year, holidaymakers are less undecided when it comes to their summer trip destination with only 22% of Europeans having not yet decided (-10pts vs last year).
Above all, a return to international travel is observed in all the countries: 48% (+13pts) of Europeans, 36% (+11pts) of Americans and 56% (+7pts) of Thais intend to travel abroad this summer. It is particularly the case in the countries where holidaymakers are more used to travel abroad: British (+24 pts abroad), Swiss (+7pts) and Belgians (+7pts) will leave home and head abroad.
In some countries, the proportion of holidaymakers that will stay in their own country remains stable compared to last year: populations that traditionally stay within their borders will be maintaining this trend. It will be the case for 65% of Italians, 59% of Spaniards, 56% of French and 54% of Portuguese. While domestic travel in UK (-10pts), Switzerland (-8pts) and Belgium (-5pts) decreased.
As international travel increases, holidaymakers will adjust their mode of transportation. Overall, the two favorite means remain the car and the plane. However, Europeans will use their car less than last year (55%, -9pts) and favor air travel (33%, +11pts). The same applies for Americans, in more balanced proportions (48%, -7pts vs 43%, +5pts). Train or bus are still used by a minority of the population: less than 15% of the Europeans and less than 10% in other continents.
Back to normal?
When asked about the return to “normal conditions” of travel, perceptions vary considerably from one country to another. Thais, Australians and Austrians are the most pessimistic, with half of the population thinking situation will come back to normal only in 2024, with some respondents indicating it may be later, or even never. On the contrary, Poles, Czech and Swiss are the most optimistic, with nearly 4 out of 10 saying a return to normal travel is already possible.
But COVID-19 may have changed habits for the working population. Around a quarter to one third of the active population declare that they will be working from a holiday location during the summer aka a “workation”. It is particularly true among Portuguese (39%), Americans (32%), Poles (32%) and Australians (31%).
As international travel recovers, Europ Assistance Group launches an international social media campaign supported by 3 videos based on our customers' real stories handled by our operations' platforms worldwide. This campaign is supported by hashtag #FromDistressToRelief. The point of this campaign is to raise awareness on the importance of having the right partner to benefit from seamless travel medical assistance worldwide, and the expertise of our medical staff and medical partners.
Many of Europ Assistance’s employees and medical networks’ employees act in these movies, whether playing their own role or playing characters. The social media campaign started on June 7 with a first movie telling the story of an European couple suffering a scooter accident in an isolated road of an heavenly Thai island.