The consensus on the recovery of travel has been that domestic will recover first, followed by short-haul second and finally long-haul. However, current traveller sentiment may suggest otherwise.

A complete change in scenery could be desired by many

According to a live GlobalData poll*, 36% of respondents stated that they would consider an international trip to a different continent in the next 12 months, which is 8% more than the percentage of respondents that stated they would consider an international trip to a country on the continent in which they live. Unsurprisingly, domestic travel is the top preference for respondents looking to travel in the next 12 months. This kind of travel is the safest and secure option in the short-term as travellers do not have to worry about sudden changes in international travel restrictions which could leave them stranded far from home, having vast amounts of money tied up with travel companies due to a delay in receiving refunds, and they will be less apprehensive around disease contraction as travellers can use private transport such as cars to reach the accommodation. These outlined risks are significantly higher when travelling to a different continent, where travel restrictions change more frequently between the visiting and host country and disease contraction is more likely due to flying on public transport such as planes. However, these dangers may leave many travellers undeterred.

According to GlobalData**, 78% of global respondents are still ‘quite’ or ‘extremely’ concerned about the Covid-19 pandemic and 62% echo this same level of concern about their personal financial situation. An additional concern about these two factors would also suggest that demand for long-haul travel should be low but it is considerably higher than demand for short-haul travel. This shows how general fatigue created by the pandemic has left travellers adamant that they need a radical change of scenery and may be willing to put considerable concerns aside to achieve this.

Airlines are now expanding long-haul networks

This month, United Airlines (UA) announced a further long-haul international expansion to Europe and Air France declared further expansion to the US, with new flights commencing this summer. United Airlines stated it will add new flights to Croatia, Iceland and Greece. Additionally, Air France publicised that it had added Denver to its network.

This increase in long-haul flights to popular destinations shows that airlines have also predicted pent-up demand for long-haul travel this year. Betting on long-haul travel from a traveller and business point of view still carries risk as the pandemic is not over and the situation can still quickly change. However, global demand for long-haul travel is evidently growing, which shows signs that meaningful recovery could start this year.

* This poll is still open and has been available on since 17 Nov 2020. Number of respondents = 1,132. Date of when poll data was used on 20/04/2021.

** GlobalData’s Q1 2021 consumer survey

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