December 18, 2020

Travel Insights – 18 December

Welcome to our last travel insights report of 2020, where we'll be sharing our weekly traveller pulse survey alongside the latest travel industry trends.

2021’s top travel trends

We surveyed over 3,000 travellers across the world to find out next year’s top travel trends and destinations.*

Zooming out

As the world looks to embrace the planet beyond the screen, notification-free nature spots like the Scottish Highlands and Chile’s Atacama Desert will provide the ultimate escape.

Making magical memories

With the 50-year anniversary of one very special mouse residing in Florida, and family memories to be made following the disappointment of 2020, where else but Orlando? 

Regenerative Travel

Places like Jamaica, Costa Rica and the Azores will define post-COVID trips as travellers consider how they can help rebuild destinations hit hard by the virus.   

Recovery Bubbles

Locations that responded quickly to the virus, while maintaining levels of domestic travel in 2020, should see a faster return to international tourism. We’re looking at South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Greece is the word

As whitewashed vistas with deep blue Aegean waters flooded many social media feeds in 2020, Greece firmly placed itself top of almost everyone’s travel wish-lists this year. The country overtook Spain to become Britain’s most popular holiday destination.   

Swell times ahead

Surfing cruises its way into the Olympics for the first time ever in 2021. With the world embracing outdoor pursuits of the socially distanced variety, California offers the best breaks for your break. 

Don’t forget the classics

2020 highlighted the resilient popularity of some mainstay destinations that are likely to bounce back the moment their fans can return – here, New York and the Balearics top the charts.

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WFP: Working from Paradise

There’s no question the office looked a little different this year, but the Maldives, the Caribbean and Mexico look set to host the ultimate 2021 office upgrade.

Beyond the city

As COVID-19 disrupted the city life ideal, many urban dwellers flocked to their rural outskirts building a burgeoning scene ripe for excursions. South West England’s new developments lead the pack, with California’s Napa Valley and Spain’s Garrotxa also offering excellent escapes from major cities.

Sporting Heroes

Almost a year of empty stadiums has led the world to crave the buzz of arenas and the belting out of sporting anthems. Couple that with two of the world’s biggest destinations hosting major sporting occasions. Those considering an atmospheric adventure should look no further than scouting Lions in South Africa (in rugby stadiums and on safari) or an excursion of Olympic proportions in Japan.

You can check out the list of trends and destinations in more detail right here

Wave of optimism for travel in 2021

We also surveyed over 1,000 UK participants about their travel plans for 2021.**

  • 64% are planning long-haul travel
  • 35% are planning short-haul travel
  • 2% are planning domestic trips
  • 30% plan to spend more on their trip than traditional pre-COVID spending

Jo McClintock, Senior Brand Director at Skyscanner, commented: 

“Safety has rightly been the top priority for many people during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with news around vaccine readiness and approvals being granted around the world, we see the appetite for travel in 2021 growing. The events of 2020 have underscored the importance of human connection and quality time with loved ones.”

“Missed opportunities in 2020 feature heavily in the trends for 2021, with travellers keen to recapture lost trips for sporting or cultural events. As well as this we see the lasting effects of COVID-19 on our psyche, as people re-evaluate and prioritise long trips and big-ticket holidays as a way to treat ourselves and our loved ones after a hard year.” 

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We also surveyed over 1,000 Americans about their travel plans for 2021.

  • 48% said the news of a possible vaccine becoming available by the end of 2020 didn't impact them as they planned to travel in 2021 regardless of a vaccine.***   

 Jo McClintock, Senior Brand Director at Skyscanner, commented: 

“We know from our website traffic and customer behaviour that travellers are turning their gaze to next year. We predict that many will prioritise spend on experiences over material goods in 2021, looking to make special memories with loved ones. 

“The US is set to make a comeback as soon as the world opens up, with California appearing on the list along with New York and Orlando as global hotspots for 2021.”

Traveller confidence continues to rise 

Here are the insights from our weekly pulse survey of over 5, 000 travellers around the world.

Perceptions of international travel

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Overall, traveller confidence is growing, but at a slower rate than the last few weeks.

  • 33% think it’s improving, up from 32% last week and 29% the week before.

  • 32% think it’s staying the same, compared to 32% last week and 30% the week before.

  • 35% think it’s getting worse, down from 36% last week and 41% the week before.

On a regional level, travellers in APAC are the most optimistic. Optimism in EMEA has actually fallen a bit from its steep climb a couple of weeks ago, while it’s growing slowly in the Americas.

APAC

  • 36% think it’s improving, up from 31% last week and 33% the week before.

  • 21% think it’s staying the same, down from 26% last week and 23% the week before.

  • 43% think it’s getting worse, the same as last week and the week before.

EMEA

  • 34% think it’s improving, compared to 36% last week and 27% the week before.

  • 38% think it’s staying the same, up from 36% last week and 34% the week before.

  • 28% think it’s getting worse, down from 29% last week and 39% the week before.

AMER

  • 30% think it’s improving, up from 27% last week and 28% the week before.

  • 30% think it’s staying the same, compared to 31% last week and 30% the week before.

  • 40% think it’s getting worse, down from 42% last week and the week before.

Perceptions of domestic travel

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Overall, traveller confidence is growing fast. 

  • 44% think it’s improving, compared to 33% last week and 25% the week before.

  • 35% think it’s staying the same, compared to 33% last week and 31% the week before.

  • 20% think it’s getting worse, compared to 34% last week and 44% the week before.

On a regional level, travellers in APAC are much more optimistic, although this optimism has remained the same for a few weeks now. Traveller optimism in EMEA and AMER has actually fallen, with travellers in the Americas being the least optimistic by some distance – with over half thinking the situation is getting worse, the highest it’s been since April.

APAC

  • 58% think it’s improving, the same as last week and the week before.

  • 16% think it’s staying the same, down from 19% last week and 20% the week before.

  • 26% think it’s getting worse, up from 24% last week and 22% the week before.

EMEA

  • 34% think it’s improving, compared to 38% last week and 30% the week before.

  • 35% think it’s staying the same, up from 32% last week and 31% the week before.

  • 30% think it’s getting worse, compared to 30% last week and 39% the week before.

AMER

  • 22% think it’s improving, down from 23% last week and 25% the week before.

  • 23% think it’s staying the same, down from 25% last week and 28% the week before.

  • 55% think it’s getting worse, up from 52% last week and 48% the week before.


In the new year, we'll share more data and insights from the past two weeks on our blog as well as keeping you updated with how we're helping travellers and the wider industry during the pandemic. 

* Survey of over 3,000 global participants on Skyscanner platforms during November 2020

** Survey of 1002 UK participants on Skyscanner platforms during November 2020 

*** Survey of 1001 US participants on Skyscanner platforms during November 2020