Concerns about COVID-19 will dictate Aussie travel behaviours for the foreseeable future
4 May 2022 by Laura Sedgwick
Research reveals that 75 per cent of Aussie travellers are more concerned about their health and safety when travelling now, than prior to the pandemic, and exposes how these fears have significantly shaped our travel behaviours now and into the future
Key findings from the research include:
- 92% of Australians are planning to travel within Australia or overseas over the next two years
- 75% of Australians who plan to travel in the next 2 years will be more concerned about health and safety when travelling now, compared to before the pandemic
- 89% of Australian travellers claim a destination’s COVID-19 record will impact their decision to travel there
- 80% of Australian travellers now consider travel insurance a high priority for international travel and 65% now consider domestic travel insurance a high priority
- 36% of 18-24 year olds do not consider travel insurance a high priority for international travel
Today, research commissioned by Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has revealed that three in four (75%) Australians who plan to travel in the next 2 years will be more concerned about health and safety when travelling now, compared to before the pandemic.
The research, which investigated Australian attitudes and behaviours towards travel following the pandemic, has revealed that our appetite for travel is strong following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, with nine in ten (92%) Australians planning to travel within Australia or overseas over the next two years.
However, the research shines a light on how post-pandemic travel concerns are currently shaping Australian travel decisions including: destination considerations, accommodation choices, holiday activities and attitudes towards risk and travel insurance.
Interestingly, the research indicates that even before many Australians have left for their holidays, they’re already planning for unforeseen circumstances, such as how to reduce their risk with their accommodation choices, selection and booking of activities and type of holiday experiences they are seeking. It’s not surprising given this cautious mindset, that eight in ten (80%) Australian travellers now consider travel insurance a high priority for international travel, with two thirds (65%) of Australian travellers now considering domestic travel insurance a high priority.
Jo McCauley, CEO at Southern Cross Travel Insurance explains that the results from the recent research exposed some interesting changes in travel behaviour.
“It’s no surprise that people are more cautious about travel since the onset of COVID-19, but what is interesting to see is the extent that these concerns are having on decisions across all areas of our travel behaviour - beginning before we’ve left for our holidays and continuing right through to the travelling experience.”
“COVID-19 has impacted the way we approach travel, including our method of planning our holidays. It has made us more aware now, than ever, of the things that could potentially go wrong during our travels and the importance in planning for these unforeseen circumstances as much as we can.”
“This is becoming particularly evident in our business. We’re seeing a real shift in perception around the importance of travel insurance among our customers. Prior to the pandemic, travel insurance used to be something some of our customers would purchase at the last minute with limited understanding about what they were and weren’t covered. We’re now finding Australian travellers are much more engaged with their travel insurance policy and as a result we’re experiencing a surge in enquiries into our contact centre with customers asking us a lot more detailed and hypothetical questions about what would, and wouldn’t, be covered in certain situations,” says McCauley.
The research shows that our concern about COVID-19 and how to reduce risks doesn’t stop at travel insurance, it extends to all areas of travel with the data illustrating that the way many of us are going to be travelling will change compared to pre-COVID-19.
Australians are showing a high degree of caution when it comes to selecting international travel destinations, with nine in ten (89%) claiming a destination’s COVID-19 record will impact their decision to travel there. The consequences of drawn-out COVID-19 restrictions have also influenced the type of holiday we choose next, with getting back to nature and getting away from big cities in the top three holiday experiences now, compared to before the pandemic.
Survey results also suggest bunking in with strangers from anywhere and everywhere has less appeal, even for the most adventurous traveller with consideration of hostel-style accommodation down from 22% pre COVID-19 to 13% now. We will see shifts away from certain types of accommodation due to the pandemic with half of all Australian travellers now considering overall physical cleanliness (51%) and evidence of COVID-safe practices (43%) as the most important considerations when they next choose accommodation meaning hostels and budget motels may lose out.
Lastly, the research indicates flexibility is key! A last-minute approach to planning holiday fun might be the way forward, at least in the short-term, with more than eight in ten (85%) Australian travellers who book activities when travelling saying their approach to booking activities will change and they will only book when there is a favourable cancellation policy (46%), clear COVID-19 safety protocols (37%) and some will wait until after they arrive at a destination (31%) to avoid disappointment.
Interestingly, the research reveals that many concerns about travel aren’t shared by younger generations.
In fact, attitudes to travel remain relatively unchanged among the younger demographic, with half of 18-24 year olds (49%) claiming they are just as likely to travel internationally now, compared to before the start of the pandemic.
Unlike older generations, only one in three (33%) 18-24 year olds claim to be a lot more concerned about health and safety when booking a trip and two thirds (64%) say a destination’s COVID-19 record will not play a major role in their decision to travel there. They are also less likely to be taking the same precautions as older generations with one in three (36%) not considering travel insurance a high priority for international travel.
“The research does reveal some fascinating generational differences. Specifically, the younger generation’s (18-24 year old) more relaxed approach to travel, which differs significantly to older generations. This age group are most likely to take the opportunity to travel now that international borders are beginning to open across the world. However, what is slightly concerning is that the data does indicate that this age group may not be taking the same precautions as older generations when planning a holiday, therefore leaving them more exposed to increased risk of harm or costly mistakes here and overseas,” says Jo McCauley.
“Regardless of age and health, we always recommend that travellers take out travel insurance. You just never know what might happen and it’s better to be prepared than to be left feeling regretful and with a huge bill to pay.”
The research took place in March 2022 and was conducted by YouGov. A nationally representative sample of 1,042 Australians aged 18 years and older took part in the online survey.