Strong appetite for travel but with stricter hygiene measures on flights

With international travel off the cards for the foreseeable future more than half (52 per cent) of Australians are still planning to travel domestically this year, but the majority want stricter hygiene measures on flights and would cancel travel to Covid-19 hotspots.

Research by tech firm Toluna revealed that Covid-19 is still a concern for travellers, with nearly three quarters (70 per cent) cancelling their travel plans if a second wave of Covid-19 hit Australia, and 56 per cent prepared to cancel travel to a destination reporting a high number of Covid-19 cases.

Quarantine is also off-putting for travellers, with 56 per cent stating they would cancel plans if their destination imposed a 14-day quarantine, and 44 per cent would cancel if they had to quarantine upon returning to their own state.

Although current guidelines suggest in-flight face masks should be optional, the majority of respondents (65 per cent) believe face masks should be mandatory on flights. They also believe there should be mandatory temperature checks before boarding (73 per cent), spaced seating (68 per cent) and hand sanitiser available for all passengers (82 per cent).

A large number of respondents (63 per cent) also believe any passengers showing Covid-19 symptoms should be prevented from travelling until they return a negative test, while 13 per cent said they should be allowed to travel, but only if wearing a face mask and isolated from other passengers.

For respondents planning to travel within Australia this year, the key motivator for most (79 per cent) was to support local tourism, while 59 per cent plan to take advantage of anticipated travel deals. Half (50 per cent) of the respondents surveyed had had their international travel plans cancelled due to Covid-19, so they decided to travel within Australia instead.

Queensland was listed as the top travel destination, with 40 per cent of respondents looking to visit the sunshine state this year, followed by 39 per cent hoping to travel to, or within, NSW. Despite the research being conducted as Victoria’s Covid-19 numbers were rising, 31 per cent of respondents said they planned to travel to Victoria at some point this year.

With talk of a proposed trans-Tasman bubble, 27 per cent of respondents would book a trip to New Zealand in the next six to 12 months, and another 38 per cent would consider it, should the borders between the two countries be opened.

When it comes to global travel plans, 33 per cent would only travel internationally after a COVID-19 vaccine was made available.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Australia’s tourism industry hard, with many tourism operators, hotels and key destinations left wondering what the next 12 months might look like,” said Stephen Walker, Toluna business director Australia & New Zealand.

“Our research shows a strong appetite for domestic travel, which will hopefully help to sustain the tourism industry as well as supporting local related businesses such as restaurants and bars, while international borders remain closed.

“Our research also shows that COVID-19 remains a very real concern for Australians, and travellers expect strict hygiene protocols to be adhered to. We would encourage airline carriers, hotels, and any businesses in the travel industry to really drive home that safety messaging and to ensure guests you are doing everything you can to keep them safe and follow government health guidelines.”