Travel expected to return to new version of ‘normal’ next year

More than half of older holidaymakers expect travel will return to a new version of ‘normal’ in 2021.

A majority (81%) are keen to travel again, while Covid-19 has made no difference to the holiday priorities of 36% of them.

And 52% have not been affected by the economic implications of the Covid-19 lockdown.

More:Concerns raised over lack of insurance policies

The findings emerge in a Silver Travel Advisor poll into the impact of coronavirus and attitudes to future holidays.

More than 800 older travellers, 79% aged between 60 and 80, completed the online survey.

About a third of respondents expect to book a flight (31%), a UK holiday (29%) or overseas holiday (35%) within the next six to 12 months. Eleven per cent will only holiday within the UK for the foreseeable future.

Even some of the more outward-going respondents flagged up concerns about travel insurance excluding cover for Covid-19 going forwards, that might curtail their ability to travel in the future.

More than 10% have experienced difficulty in obtaining travel insurance since the outbreak began, and Silver Travel Advisor predicts that this number will increase.

Refunds for cancelled holidays are concerning more than one in five older travellers, with the difficulty of obtaining a response and money back being widely reported.

But equal numbers of respondents expressed support for hard-pressed travel professionals working in unprecedented circumstances.

Views on taking ocean cruises were polarised. A total of 43% have either – enjoyed cruising before and are already booked again (10%); have enjoyed cruising before and would like to cruise again when things return to normal (21%); or have yet to cruise but would like to (12%).

However, 42% do not expect to take a cruise – 12% have been before but would not set sail again while 30% have never taken a cruise and do not wish to start.

River cruising was viewed more positively, perhaps as a way to test returning to the water. A total of 55% would want to take a river cruise in the future – of which 37% have never taken a river cruise but would be interested to try one – while only 35% do not plan to take one, of which just 5% have taken a river cruise before but would not take one again.

Looking at the responses more closely, four clear types emerge of how older travellers are responding to the coronavirus outbreak:

  • The Nesters– these are the stay-at-home people, mainly in the vulnerable category, who prefer to await a vaccine or other medical protection; and other than for day trips (perhaps), they don’t really want to travel at all.
  • The Belt & Bracers– this cautious group want all the facts before they’ll look to travel again. They want to know the clear protocols for social distancing, hygiene, screening and health and safety. Then they will book, provided they have reassurance on the protection of their money, cancellation conditions, repatriation plans and comprehensive travel insurance.
  • The Believers – trust is key for these optimistic travellers who have faith that the companies who have looked after them well, or who have been personally recommended, will get it right. They want to enjoy holidays in the same spirit as they have done in the past although they are very aware that things may not be quite the same as before.
  • The Avengers– this group feel they have lost months of their lives as well as their travel plans because of the virus and they want to get out as soon as they can in the diminishing number of years in good health they have left. The lockdown has only enhanced their wanderlust.

Silver Travel Advisor managing director Debbie Marshall said: “This survey illustrates the strength of feeling in older people, a majority of whom, while recognising the seriousness of the pandemic, have not been economically impacted and are keen to resume their travels when it becomes possible and safe to do so.

“Many have expressed appreciation for the struggle by travel professionals to support their clients at such a difficult time, even as the refund issue has loomed large for those affected by unavoidable cancellations.

“This older generation know that they have had it good so far and travel has become a key part of their later life.

“They are keen to get back out exploring and feel that one of the main things that might hold them back in the future is the difficulty in obtaining travel insurance, for the over-70s in particular.

“This is a challenge that the travel insurance industry will need to address if the key older market sector is to pack its collective suitcase and head out into the new world of travel, post-coronavirus, in whatever form that might take.’’


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