Despite the re-opening of borders across much of Europe this summer, the latest research by Redfield & Wilton Strategies finds that international travel has been extremely limited. Our polling finds that only 9-13% of respondents in France, Italy, and Spain say they travelled abroad this summer, or still intend to travel abroad this summer.
Domestic travel was far more popular, with 33-40% of respondents in France, Italy, and Spain saying they travelled domestically this summer on a holiday. Spain had the lowest overall self-reported levels of travel, with 5% travelling abroad, 29% travelling domestically and 4% travelling both abroad and domestically, reflecting the fact that the country has the highest number of COVID cases in Europe.
Coronavirus has dealt a major blow to airlines as revenues fall far below projected levels. When asking respondents about their projected summer plans before the coronavirus pandemic, 33-41% of respondents had hoped to travel abroad this summer.
The impact on domestic travel, however, has been somewhat mitigated, with 33-40% still travelling domestically compared to the 39-50% who planned on travelling domestically before the coronavirus. France experienced the most stability with 40% travelling domestically compared to 39% who said they intended to travel domestically before the coronavirus. Spain faced the largest reduction in domestic travel from 50% travel intention before the coronavirus pandemic down to 33% actual travel, presumably as a result of rising caseloads in regions that are popular holiday destinations, such as the Costa Brava.
Our research showed that respondents’ primary concern was the risk to their health, rather than financial strain. Only 5-8% of respondents who are not going on holiday this year said it was because they were worried about spending money during these difficult times.
Intention to travel, either domestically or abroad, has declined steadily throughout the summer months. In Italy, 45% of respondents in May said that they did not plan to travel at all this summer, a figure that then rose to 48% in June and 51% in July. Similarly, in France, 38% said in May that they did not intend to travel, increasing to 49% in June and 53% in July. It is likely that optimism about travel plans faded as coronavirus caseloads rose across parts of Europe in the second half of the summer..
Unfortunately for the travel industry, the public is not optimistic that the situation will improve over the coming months: the majority (65-70%) of respondents across the three countries expect travel abroad to become even harder in the next few months.
The overall rise in pessimism may be a result of the recent increase in European cases, or fears about a potent spike during cold and flu season, leading to increased quarantines and restrictions for travellers.