Holly Zawyer
Holly Zawyer

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated many businesses, perhaps none more visible than the effects it has had on the travel and tourism industry. Due to mandatory restrictions, the industry has been at a standstill with airlines, hotels and tourism boards around the world scrambling to adjust campaigns while reinventing themselves to come out on the other side prepared to welcome and serve would-be travelers in the new normal.

The good news is people will travel, and we’ll regain confidence in the travel experience again. Zapwater surveyed more than 1,200 U.S.-based frequent travelers about post-COVID-19 travel to help our clients make informed, strategic decisions as the U.S. begins to reopen businesses and allow for some travel flexibility. The survey results shed some light on how travelers feel about future travel plans, which will help agencies and their hotel and destination clients better prepare to reopen.

Travelers are remaining optimistic during the COVID-19 pandemic and still plan to take trips in 2020. According to the survey, 65 percent of respondents are looking forward to traveling again, both internationally and domestically. 39 percent of travelers are hoping to travel within the first six months after travel restrictions are lifted. 56 percent of participants feel comfortable spending just as much on a trip as they would have before COVID-19. 80 percent of travelers surveyed said they’re willing to travel for a length of three to seven nights during their first trips post-COVID-19.

This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Jul. '20 Travel & Int'l PR Magazine.

Health and safety protocols are a priority among travelers. Resort and hotel safety protocols ranked the highest priority (75 percent) influencing immediate travel decisions, versus proximity to home (23 percent). The number of COVID-19 cases in a destination ranked among the top factors (63 percent) that would influence travelers when making their purchasing decision for their next vacation post-COVID-19.

When travel resumes, U.S. travelers will choose to travel by car and plane. Travel by car will become increasingly more popular, with 57 percent planning to drive for their first trip post-pandemic. Of those surveyed, 53 percent plan to fly for their first trip post-COVID-19. 35 percent of frequent travelers are very likely to take a short-haul flight (three hours or less) for their first trip post-COVID-19.

International travel to the Caribbean, Europe and Canada ranked highest for travelers to visit within the next six months. Internationally, Canada placed first, with over 36 percent of respondents, the Caribbean ranked second with over 35 percent and Europe placed third with 33 percent feeling most comfortable to visit within the next six to 12 months.

Other survey findings include:

  • Domestic travel will become increasingly popular with 83 percent of those surveyed looking forward to staying within the U.S. for their first trip post-COVID-19.
  • Adventure, wellness, and bucket list trips ranked highest among the type of trips frequent travelers are looking to explore during their next vacation.
  • Top domestic regions of interest include the West Coast and Southeast.
  • A majority of those surveyed travel most often with family or spouse.

It may feel like we haven’t traveled in a lifetime, but one thing we know for sure is that the desire to travel is stronger than ever. We must continue to inspire travel by generating awareness about re-openings and driving bookings to help industry partners recover. However, it’s also our responsibility to ensure recovery plans reach the right audiences within the right markets while being mindful of each target markets’ unique situation with content that allows your client to stay connected in a positive and meaningful way.


Holly Zawyer is managing director, Miami, at Zapwater Communications.