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The impact that COVID-19 has had on our daily lives has made the past year one of the hardest we’ve had to endure. Maintaining distance and staying home has become part of the new normal. While tough days may still be ahead, new research reveals that our appetite to explore the world remains undiminished and after months of restrictions, Canadian travellers are finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to the roll-out of vaccines and the development of other break-through medical advances in the battle against COVID-19.

New research from leading digital travel platform Booking.com reveals insights into what areas Canadian travellers feel most hopeful about as it becomes safe to travel again, and what support they believe the travel industry needs to get back on its feet.

Businessman with protective face mask just arriving in hotel

Travellers’ optimism returns as vaccines fuel hope

Despite knowing that the pandemic finish line hasn’t been reached just yet, two thirds of Canadian travellers (72%) feel more hopeful about travelling in 2021 due to the unwavering commitment of the scientific and medical communities and the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines. A similar number of Canadian travellers (70%) state that not being able to travel extensively in 2020 has made them yearn for travel even more in 2021. 

The trust in vaccines runs deep, with 69% of Canadian travellers stating that they won’t travel internationally until they have been vaccinated, which rises to 77% among those 55+ years old, while 64% of Canadian travellers will only travel to countries that have implemented vaccination programs. But there still is some hesitation, with 35% remaining skeptical as to whether a vaccine will truly help make travel safer. 

Travel Wins in Post Pandemic Priorities

Despite feeling mostly optimistic, Canadian travellers acknowledge that not being able to travel in 2020 like they used to in previous years has had a significant effect on their well-being, with 49% reporting a negative impact on their mental health and 45% having felt imprisoned in their own home due to travel restrictions.

61% say travel is more important to them now than it was before the pandemic. So much so that almost three quarters (72%) of Canadian travellers would even go so far as stating that they would rather go on a vacation in 2021 than find true love. At 72%, the same amount would prioritize travelling over success at work, preferring to go on vacation than get promoted.

Nearly half (48%) of Canadian travellers have used the increased time at home to plan future travel while 33% have banked more vacation days, so are excited about the potential of taking longer vacations in 2021. When dreaming about their next vacation, 50% feel confident that they’ll be able to hit the beach by summer 2021, and 19% say a relaxing beach or spa trip will be the first type of trip when it’s safe to do so . After an exhausting year only 5% will book an active trip and just 4% say a city break is a priority. 

A joint effort for a common goal

To help Canadian travellers safely rediscover the destinations they long for, there appears to be a consensus that governments, travellers and the wider travel ecosystem need to work together. 

Following the impact that COVID-19 has had on the travel industry, 93% of Canadian travellers think the industry needs to be supported to get back on its feet. Over half (57%) believe that government financial stimuli are now needed to help travel’s recovery and 43% worry that the industry won’t survive unless it is supported with government grants. In terms of more practical regulations, 75% state that wider access to pre-travel COVID-19 testing is needed, and 74% say that governments should collaborate with travel associations and providers to set more consistent standards. 

70%** Booking.com’s accommodation partners surveyed are cautiously optimistic about the future of their business, though they share Canadian travellers’ mindset that the industry needs support, as the majority of them would like to see governments do more in the future to support the travel industry during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Three key areas that need to be addressed, according to properties of all types and sizes, are more consistent international standards when it comes to travel advice & rules, speeding up vaccine roll-out programmes and wider access to pre-travel COVID-19 testing**.

But with 62%** of accommodation providers expecting to see an increase in interest for travel for 2021, they continue to do their part to ensure travellers feel safe, with 70%** having increased health & safety measures and improved cleaning processes.

Accommodation providers are not the only ones willing to roll up their sleeves, with 67% of Canadian travellers willing to accept only being able to travel if they could prove they have been vaccinated. Meanwhile 76% would accept having to wear a face mask when travelling, with 62% going as far as supporting a ‘no mask no travel’ ban (unless exempt). 72% would be willing to only travel in small groups of 2-6 people.

To support the travel industry more directly, 16% of Canadian travellers plan to use travel credits / vouchers from cancelled trips instead of requesting a refund and the same number will buy vouchers for family and friends for them to use when it’s safe to travel again. Meanwhile 22% plan to choose less frequented destinations and 20% want to book independent accommodations or accommodations in or near their hometown to support local businesses (21%).

“Booking.com remains optimistic that at some point in the not-so-distant future, everyone may once again be able to travel and experience the world together,” says Adriana Mantilla, Regional Manager Canada at Booking.com. “As we start to see a light at the end of the tunnel, we remain committed to supporting everyone on their journey to getting back to travel, as it’s safe to do so, working together with all those in the travel industry to ensure its recovery for a better, brighter future. And with our mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, when the time is right to discover the places, cultures and experiences we’ve all been dreaming of, we will make sure you can find them on Booking.com.”

At Booking.com, it’s our goal to make sure travellers stay safe. We advise Canadian travellers to follow any travel advice updates from local government and health organizations, including province-to-province travel regulations with any quarantine measures in place, as well as adhere to appropriate safety measures.

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