Market research firm Ipsos has released a new report that explores how attitudes towards travel have evolved during the last few months in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Here are the key findings –
The desire to travel has been steadily increasing
- People are increasingly expressing their desire to travel again, with many reminiscing about the smallest travel moments such as packing, walking around the airport, and looking outside the airplane window.
- The online conversations around travel have evolved as the months progressed.
- At the start of the pandemic, people were more concerned about the spread of the virus, and so safety measures and travel regulations were the most discussed topics.
- At the time, the virus was still novel. New information about how the virus spreads kept being shared and governmental actions kept changing, which added to the uneasiness.
- As the summer months approached people were becoming less fearful. Demands for travel restrictions started giving way to conversations about people’s desires to travel again, despite many still not being comfortable doing so.
- 36% of respondents long for international travel compared to domestic travel, despite the
latter being open since June.
- In fact, many were vocal about the country’s perceived lack of readiness to have a thriving domestic tourism scene and saw the pandemic as a missed opportunity to promote the domestic travel industry.
Majority are still not comfortable traveling internationally
- Despite the increasing desire to travel, and specifically to travel abroad, 81% of respondents are still not comfortable traveling internationally.
- The primary reason behind their discomfort is the fear of being infected with the virus while traveling at various stages of the travel journey.
- Another reason that has people staying put for now is the lack of clarity regarding the pandemic’s situation and the impact that this might have on flight schedules changing, flights getting canceled, or international borders closing down again.
- Economics also plays a role when it comes to people’s comfort levels. Some travelers are simply not comfortable spending money on leisure activities,2 at a time when many are suffering as a result of the pandemic.
Across the travel journey, sentiment towards accommodation is most negative
- People worry more about contracting the virus at an airport or on a plane, but as more travelers start sharing their experiences; hotels are being perceived most negatively, with people complaining about low cleaning standards, at a time when standards need to be exceeding expectations on the cleanliness front.
- As the months progressed, the attitudes in favor of reopening airports have risen.
Improved health situation and attractive travel offers would encourage people to travel again
- 61% of people cite health improvement and attractive offers as factors that would make them consider traveling again.
- While some travelers don’t care which destination they fly to as long as they get to travel, 29% of respondents have specific destinations in mind and would rather only visit these once travel restrictions have been lifted.