The rise of staycation culture seems to have been a refreshing change of pace for the hospitality business, particularly in the months between lockdowns last year and today, as so many countries gradually turn the corner into a safer atmosphere, with even more people becoming vaccinated every day. Hotels have indeed been open in Ireland since June 2nd, and based on our data, summer bookings are good – many hotels are thriving. The majority of hotel reservations have been domestic, and some passengers are scheduling lengthier stays because they are unable to enjoy their usual overseas vacation. Additional trends include higher cancellation rates and inquiries, as well as shorter booking lead times.
It appears that vaccine programme effectiveness is inextricably related to the future of international travel, while Ireland today has one of the world’s highest immunisation rates.
Portugal, among numerous other European countries, was among the first to remove quarantine procedures for UK visitors and open its borders to US visitors. In July, there were more overseas hotel guests than domestic hotel guests for the first time since the pandemic started (62 per cent international). Siteminder predicts that by January 2022, that percentage will have risen to 94 percent.
People’s decisions are influenced by rapid, continual changes
The news about Covid limits is still changing quickly, and many countries are in a state of turmoil. Pre-summer, it appeared that Irish domestic holidaymakers were delaying booking August staycations in case foreign travel restrictions had been relaxed.
The non-essential foreign travel embargo in Ireland was formally abolished on July 19th, whereas the government authorised the EU digital COVID-19 certificate thus reducing quarantine procedures for US and UK travellers. With headlines like these showing up, individuals appear to be regaining confidence in the issue of foreign travel, encouraging them to resume ticking destinations off their bucket lists following 15 months of on/off lockdowns. Last month, The Guardian reported on a ‘surge’ in long-haul reservations, including evidence of UK tourists booking once-in-a-lifetime trips to South America, Kenya, and Tanzania. People who booked these types of vacations also booked longer trips, with the average trip length increasing from 15 to 23 days.
What about going on a business trip across the globe? According to the results of a recent poll conducted by the Global Business Travel Association, half of the respondents (52 per cent) said that “government policies and constraints about foreign business travel kept going to impact their businesses’ capacity to operate critical business operations including such networking, business prospecting, making plans, as well as sales meetings.” “There is an appetite to restart non-essential business trips and in-person meetings to boost cooperation, networking, and business prospects,” adds Suzanne Neufang, CEO of the GBTA. Surprisingly, cost reductions do not appear to be a major factor in the decision to delay getting tourists back on the road.” They discovered that 77% of GBTA members and stakeholders believe their staff are now “willing” or “very willing” to travel for business.
Global foreign tourist arrivals fell by 85% between January and May of this year, compared to the same period last year. While foreign travel is undoubtedly resumed, it is doubtful that this will reach the levels experienced before the outbreak this year. As we wade through the still-muddy waters of recovery, the uplift will persist, although it will be sluggish. And that is why, throughout the remainder of the year, it’s critical to keep domestic travellers engaged!
During the year 2022, what can we expect in terms of international travel?
As per the World Tourism Organization’s global survey of travel experts, 14% believe international tourism would return to pre-pandemic levels by 2022. It won’t happen until 2023, according to 36%, and 2024 or later, according to 49%.
Although it’s unthinkable to make a perfect prediction, the numbers are trending in the right direction, and the way things are going, it appears that the more progress and control we have had over vaccines and variants, the more the consumer confidence would then develop – so the more comfortable we’ll all be travelling internationally again. At Net Affinity, we’ll be watching it closely.
So here is what some of industry experts have to say right now
According to Hollie McHugh, Marketing Director, the hotel sector has had some of its most difficult years in recent times. While there are some encouraging signs in the travel sector, it’s still unclear how this will translate to overseas travel and whether consumer confidence would be entirely restored. We are currently not noticing any notable trends for 2022, but we are keeping a careful eye on traffic, search, including booking trends. It certainly makes planning tough – for marketing budgets with activity, rate plans and packages – but hoteliers must remember that international business eventually returns; the question is when. For the time being, hotels are booming as a result of the staycation sector.
Helena Rowe Bradley, eCommerce Services Manager, predicts something for 2022: It is believed international travel would pick up in comparison to 2020/2021 levels, but we don’t think this would return to 2019 levels until at least 2023. After the epidemic, corporate travel will alter forever, so we will see major international conferences as well as the rooms that go along with them again, but smaller, ad hoc meetings will take place over video calls. Covid has helped individuals focus their minds, therefore we should see more “bucket list” travel as well as a large number of people travelling to Ireland for this type of vacation, especially when they have family here. Whoever knows what additional trends will emerge, such as digital nomads — people who travel whilst working “from home” – from which we can profit.
Guidelines for International Travel
There are indicators that the pandemic’s deadliest days seem to be behind us. The pandemic, though, continues to influence worldwide travel. OIE advises community members seeking overseas travel to carefully analyse their circumstances in the months ahead, especially while plans for the approaching winter break are being made. International travel is not encouraged in some circumstances (for instance, if you are travelling to a country where you’d be subject to a COVID-related travel ban and thus unable to return to the United States), since you may not have been able to re-enter the United States as planned.
If you are thinking about travelling, irrespective of your citizenship, you must carefully analyse your plans, personal risk factors, plus current government rules for any nation you plan to visit or pass through. If you decide to travel, keep an eye on things as conditions and admission requirements/restrictions are subject to change.
However we hope that all of your travel plans go as well as possible, anyone who wants to travel internationally should indeed be prepared for the worst-case situation and have backup plans in place.
Take into account the following:
Entry into other countries: Several nations, like the United States, have entry limitations or pandemic safety rules, which include what forms of facial coverings should be worn and as they must be worn. Some countries might well be barred from entering, and quarantining, testing, or immunizations may be required before or after arrival. When country conditions and policies shift, these rules will shift as well. Be aware that rules might change in transit or even during your journey. If you intend to travel, keep an eye on the situation with guidelines to see if they change.
Be ready for unforeseen delays and have enough money to cover any additional travel expenditures or quarantine requirements (e.g., if you have an issue obtaining a negative COVID test).
The government’s official websites for the countries you intend to travel to or through are the best source of new COVID regulations information. Various sources of information could be beneficial as well.