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Will the Coronavirus Change the Way Americans Travel?

A new travel sentiment survey reveals just how deep the impact of COVID-19 may go

COVID-19 not only caused an epidemic of canceled trips, but it has clearly changed the way Americans view the travel destinations they want to visit and the experiences they want to have – at least for a while. In a new study:

“Coronavirus Travel Sentiment” tracking study, conducted by Destination Analysts, a travel market research firm, 66.1 percent of the surveyed body said their travel had been upended by the virus.

The good news for the travel industry is that Americans do miss traveling.  Although when asked the first word they associate with travel in the present moment, expressions of fear dominate, nevertheless, two-thirds agree or strongly agree that they “miss travel…I can’t wait to get out and travel again.”  

The question remains, however, as the era of coronavirus passes will people return to the same set of desires and trip experiences they once coveted? or will these values be forever altered?  

As of this week, nearly one-third of American travelers now say they will change the types of destinations they choose to visit after the coronavirus situation is resolved (29.0 percent).

Another 26.0 percent are unsure about what they will want. When probed as why they feel this way, these travelers responded with such comments as, “I won’t visit any place where a lot of people go,” or “I will not travel anywhere that has not shown virus cases to be 0 percent,” or “I will probably be more local with only one person in party,” as well as “I will be camping, instead of relying on how others clean and care for different spaces,” and “I will be spending more time doing individual things and outdoor activities.”  

In considering the ultimate impact of COVID-19 on travel it is critical to note that no data source right now captures the travel volume that never emerged because of the pandemic—the millions of trips that are typically inspired and planned in shorter windows…the lost months of travel.

The survey was conducted March 27-29) with answers collected from some 1,200 American leisure and business travelers.