A new survey following traveler sentiment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic conducted by FinanceBuzz found that travelers are just as worried about the Omicron variant disrupting their travel plans or making it harder to travel as they were about the Delta variant.
The concern isn’t unfounded, seeing as the new variant actually ended up disrupting travel more than Delta, from the massive number of flight cancellations to different destinations like Spain and Hong Kong imposing stricter entry requirements on international arrivals and even instituting travel bans to countries in Southern Africa, where the variant was first identified.
FinanceBuzz conducted three surveys of over 1,000 Americans from May 2020, August 2021 and January 2022 to trace the change in traveler sentiment, trends, fears and anxieties surrounding COVID-19.
This January, it found that 51 percent of respondents have already changed their vacation plans because of the variant, while 31 percent canceled their plans outright. This was still lower than both the initial COVID-19 outbreak and the Delta variant, when 43 percent and 35 percent of respondents reported canceling their travel plans.
Travelers’ biggest worry with international travel is still getting sick while abroad, with nearly half reporting the fear of having to quarantine in another country (41 percent). Travelers are also less likely to fly if masks were no longer mandated on flights, with 47 percent saying they would reconsider flying if that was the case, an increase from August 2021’s sentiment.
Travel planning is also a bit different now than in the past, even in comparison with the other two surges. While outright cancellations are less common during the Omicron surge, a quarter of all respondents reported never planning any travel at all, up seven percent from last year and one percent higher even than in May 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic. About 20 percent of respondents also noted that they especially wouldn’t consider traveling internationally right now.
Travelers who are planning travel are leaning towards refundable options (39 percent), are waiting longer to book travel (35 percent) and are more likely to purchase a travel insurance plan (25 percent).
Another new study conducted by Longwoods International has found that the percentage of Americans planning travel in the next six months has risen to 91 percent, a large majority that could be spurred on by lowering case counts in some states. One-third of the survey’s respondents say that the pandemic will greatly impact their decision to travel in the next six months, down a third from April 2020’s travel sentiment.
Caution and adaptability seem to be the trends throughout the pandemic, though the rise in travelers deciding to wait and see what the future of the pandemic brings could be a growing trend in the future, if the pandemic doesn’t abate this year.
To view the full report, please click here.