Oliver Wyman survey: global travel demand to rebound in next six months

More than 75 per cent of people expect to travel the same or more for leisure after the pandemic

Demand for travel is set to bounce back, with almost 70 per cent of global consumers planning to travel domestically in the next six months but only 10 per cent have so far booked their trips, according to a new survey.

More than three quarters of people expect to travel the same or more for leisure post the pandemic, global management consultancy Oliver Wyman said in a survey released on Wednesday.

The study polled about 5,300 respondents in June from nine countries across Australia, the US, Asia and Europe, all of whom had flown at least once in 2019, before the pandemic severely disrupted the global travel and tourism sectors.

International leisure travel, which took the worst hit during the pandemic, still lags domestic travel, as most travellers opt to stay closer to home

More than 80 per cent of travellers in China prefer to travel domestically, compared with 67 per cent in the US and 62 per cent in Australia. But 54 per cent of Canadians and most Europeans favour short-haul international trips, according to the report.

“The summer travel surge is just the beginning of a recovery that seemed almost impossible a little [over] ... a year ago,” said Michael Wette, head of India, Middle East and Africa for transportation and services at Oliver Wyman. “We expect to see a continued desire for leisure travel through the end of the year and travel providers should anticipate a sustained leisure recovery with strong bookings continuing at least through the end of the year.”

Oliver Wyman expects traffic out of US airports to match and possibly exceed the rate of pre-pandemic travel in early 2022.

Air travel is gradually rebounding as most countries open borders and ease pandemic-related movement restrictions. Airlines are scrambling to add capacity as the number of travellers rises amid mass testing regimes and Covd-19 inoculation programmes.

Dubai, one of the world's busiest international travel hubs, expects a “massive influx” of travellers as the emirate hosts global events. Passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport is expected to reach at least 56 million in 2022, Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports' chief executive, told The National in July.

Air traffic in Asia and Europe also bounced back in the summer. July was London Heathrow Airport’s busiest month since the pandemic forced its closure and travel was restricted to essential business only.

Business travellers are also optimistic, with 75 per cent of executives polled expecting to travel the same or more than they did pre-pandemic.

There will be a “catch-up” in business travel and bookings will increase significantly in the near-term. However, changing company policies and the “effectiveness of teleconferencing” may reduce the long-term need for business travel, the report said.

Oliver Wyman said price is the “most important criteria in travel decisions and has been throughout the pandemic”, with 66 per cent of global travellers ranking cost among top factors before booking a flight.

Quote
We expect to see a continued desire for leisure travel through the end of the year and travel providers should anticipate a sustained leisure recovery with strong bookings continuing at least through the end of the year
Michael Wette, head of IMEA, Transportation and Services, Oliver Wyman

Hygiene is becoming less of a concern in travel decisions now as the world moves away from the peak of the pandemic.

While airlines continue to promote their environmental sustainability measures, only 17 per cent of consumers globally and 12 per cent in the US consider this as a “top-three factor when deciding about one flight over another”, according to the report.

Overall, environmental sustainability measures ranked last across all three editions of Oliver Wyman’s surveys.

Globally, almost 70 per cent of travellers said they were willing to enrol in a digital identification programme that would include their vaccine status and other healthcare data.

“The industry faces significant challenges, especially around the new Delta variant and a possible overall talent shortage, but demand for consumer travel will push the industry back sooner than we initially thought,” said Bruno Despujol, a partner at Oliver Wyman.

Updated: August 19th 2021, 4:58 AM
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