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Travel Planning Boom Continues with Some Caveats

By M+E Staff

Could the impact of COVID on travel be coming to an end? Some recent research suggests a cautious yes. According to a  bimonthly travel sentiment survey conducted in mid-February by Longwoods International, a travel market research firm, 91 percent of respondents have travel plans in the next six months, and 39 percent have their trip planned in the next 60 days. What’s more, seven in ten travelers now feel safe traveling outside their community, a response that reaches pre-pandemic levels. 

“Spring and summer travel look strong for 2022,” said Amir Eylon, President and CEO of Longwoods International.  “With COVID-19 restrictions and mandates being dropped across the country, most travelers are comfortable with these developments. This wave’s data confirms Americans are ready to move on from the pandemic and get back out on the road and in the air.”

 But the picture isn’t all rosy. The most recent Longwoods survey suggest that just as concerns about COVID-19 are receding, a new worry for the travel industry has emerged—rising gas prices. About six in ten travelers indicated that rising gas costs will impact their travel plans during the next six months.

Still, the events industry might be somewhat sheltered from the fuel fallout. The same Longwoods survey reveals that travelers are planning to resume participating in in-person events, such as meetings, conferences and festivals, in the next three to four months.   About two thirds of travelers are planning to attend such events in the upcoming months. 

A tip for meeting planners comes out of these Longwoods surveys: highlight local attractions and businesses on the itinerary. Travelers, Longwoods found, “continue to voice strong support for small, local-owner restauranteurs and retailers, many of whom have suffered significant business declines throughout the two-year pandemic.  The majority of travelers chose to shop local on vacation to support small, locally owned business and enjoy the unique experiences those businesses offer. Travelers seek out local experiences when they visit a community, with the top information sources being online searches, followed by advice from friends, family and/or other visitors, and tips from locals to help them find the best of local offerings.”

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