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Two-thirds of travel experts feel recovery will be 2023 or later

July 22, 2021 Business News, Headline News No Comments

New research indicates considerable pessimism in the travel industry about recovery from effects of the pandemic, with over two thirds (67%) of travel experts surveyed considering that full global recovery will not occur until 2023 or later.

Breaking that down, 35% believe a full global recovery will occur in 2023, while 24% feel 2024 is more likely. A further 8% doubt that any full recovery will come until 2025 – or later.

New research from Collinson, a global leader in traveller experiences and medical assistance, in partnership with the team at CAPA – Centre for Aviation, has pinpointed some key potential issues based on an in-depth survey of a specially selected group of over 330 C-Suite and senior managerial level travel experts globally from leading travel industry brands.

Overall, the travel experts were mixed in their views on the outlook for global health, reflecting the uncertainty of the pandemic, despite vaccine rollouts gaining pace in many markets around the world.

While most travel experts (89%) believe that it is safe to travel, they are pessimistic about the industry’s recovery – whether due to the policies being put in place, wider perceptions of safety, or both. The data highlights that fewer than one-third (31%) of respondents in Asia Pacific expect travel to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.

Meanwhile, over half of those surveyed (51%) expect that robust testing protocols will remain key to reopening global borders until the end of 2022, though widespread fears of fraudulent tests and vaccine passports may undermine use.

Looking at the market for long-haul leisure/visiting friends and family (VFR), half of the survey respondents in Asia Pacific expect a weak recovery to 2019 levels by the end of next year. 22% see up to 20% of 2019 levels being attained next year and 28% see 20-40% of 2019 levels being reached next year.

On the business/corporate travel front, 82% of respondents globally believe long-haul business travel will recover to 60% of 2019 levels in 2022.

 Traveller passports

Two-thirds of respondents (67%) considered traveller passports to be of “vital importance”, as governments wouldn’t re-open borders without them. One-quarter of respondents (25%) said traveller passports were “not important”, as they felt that some governments would allow access regardless of digital health documents. A further 8% felt traveller passports were “not relevant” as other issues, such as delayed mutual recognition of vaccines, were likely to override those initiatives.


Seven-out-of-ten respondents (70%) believe travel in the post-pandemic age will feel “more stressful” than before the pandemic and a further 26% expect travel to be “equally as stressful”. Just 4% expect travel will be less stressful than before the pandemic.

If the respondents are right, the age of easy, carefree travel may have passed.

The findings on stress directly align with Collinson’s recent The Return Journey research,
which found that while generally the desire to travel is high amongst frequent
travellers, there’s a new underlying mental health issue that travelling may cause,
manifesting itself in the stress associated with ‘new travel.’

As such, a large proportion (87%) of global travellers specifically said they wanted access to socially-distanced spaces in which to ‘de-stress’ and ‘relax away from the crowds’; with 89% of travellers
in Singapore and 90% in China citing socially-distanced spaces – such as airport lounges – to relax in as a key factor to their airport experience.

Methodology: From 7 to 30 April 2021, CAPA surveyed participants in its virtual monthly event series, CAPA Live, receiving 331 survey responses (n=331) from 64 locations with the majority coming from Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Fiji, Indonesia, New Caledonia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China, Japan, Philippines, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, India, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei. Respondents were a mix of C-Suite, executives and senior level managers from airlines, airports and aviation suppliers.  

Written by Peter Needham

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