There’s no doubt that the pandemic has been hard for the U.K. travel industry. With a forecasted cumulative drop of $3 trillion in global tourism, there’s still a way to go to return to 2019 levels – but marketers can now plan for clearer skies ahead.
In the U.K., search demand for travel is up by as much as 270% on last year. This is a figure that’s likely to rise higher so long as people can travel safely.1
Here, we share the latest search insights from Google and the actions travel marketers can take to plan for recovery and growth.
Search data indicates pent-up demand for travel
With ongoing uncertainty around international travel, demand and destination popularity can change in an instant. But as restrictions ease, we are already seeing a considerable upswing in travel-related searches.
When the U.K. government announced its travel “green list” in early May, interest in countries considered safe for travel at that time skyrocketed. For example, searches for “flights to Portugal” shot up overnight.
Domestically, the picture is positive too. Most European countries are seeing search interest in local destinations as a whole far outpace that for international travel. For instance, as restrictions have lifted, search interest for places to stay within the U.K. has risen by over 75%.2
This data — coupled with a substantial rise in average U.K. household savings among high-income, middle-income, and retiree groups during the pandemic — suggests that latent demand for travel is high. When restrictions allow them to do so, these consumers will have significant resources at their disposal to spend on going away.
As travel returns, consumer needs and concerns are shifting
For marketers, it’s important to recognise that, as consumers begin to spend on travel again, it won’t be business as usual.
New traveller behaviours and trends have emerged, as people moved from a reactionary pandemic mindset to one that plans ahead for ongoing restrictions and changing concerns.
Travel companies are already seeing a surge in advance bookings for trips later in the year, while consumer preferences around what people want from holidays are changing. Beach holidays are back, but demand for city breaks by U.K consumers is yet to return to 2019 levels. Globally, search interest for outdoor activities such as kayaking and summer camps is rocketing.
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