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MMGY Travel Intelligence has released the findings from its 2021 “Fall Edition” of its Portrait of American Travelers survey fielded in late July. The report highlights continuing strength in traveler sentiment, including high expectations for holiday travel. It also reveals the vast majority of vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers are planning trips in the months ahead, but the types of trips they are planning are different.

Americans’ intent to take a vacation over the next three months has increased, with 53 percent of U.S. adults planning to do so—up from 50 percent in April when the “Summer Edition” of the Portrait of American Travelers survey was conducted. Though intent remains strong, quarter-over-quarter growth is slowing after a strong summer travel season, and the impact of the Delta variant on the travel industry continues to be assessed. Seventy-three percent of U.S. adults intend to take a vacation in the next six months, which is close to April’s findings of 72 percent.

Differences Between Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Travelers

While more than half (54 percent) of all active leisure travelers have received a COVID-19 vaccine, it is surprising to note that vaccination status had little measurable impact on intentions to travel. In fact, 80 percent of active leisure travelers who are vaccinated plan to take a leisure trip during the next six months, compared to 81 percent of those who do not plan to get vaccinated.

However, the differences are more notable in how people are planning to travel. Significantly more vaccinated travelers are planning to stay in a hotel/resort, travel by personal car, visit friends and family, take a domestic flight and take an international trip over the next six months in comparison to those who do not plan to get vaccinated. Unvaccinated travelers were slightly more likely to plan travel for a conference or convention (10 percent) than those who are vaccinated (6 percent).

When asked about hypothetical vaccination requirements for both business and leisure travel, a majority of respondents indicated such requirements would impact the likelihood they would choose to travel. Compared to other generations, Millennials were the most likely to indicate they would attend a business meeting or convention, stay in a hotel or resort, or take a flight or cruise if proof of vaccination was required for all fellow travelers and employees or travel companies.

What Will Holiday Travel Look Like?

holiday travel
Expectations for holiday travel remain high in the midst of Covid-19.

Eager to reunite with friends and family and renew favorite holiday traditions, 42 percent of U.S. adults indicated they plan to travel this year for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Younger generations have even stronger intentions to travel, with 61 percent of Millennials and 52 percent of Gen Zs planning to pack their bags for at least one of these holidays. Of those planning holiday trips, 42 percent intend to visit the homes of friends and family, followed by 31 percent who plan to take a family leisure vacation (not to visit friends/family), and 28 percent plan to meet family or extended family members in a vacation destination. Distance does not appear to be a key factor in determining the holiday destination, with 42 percent of those who have holiday travel plans expecting to travel more than 500 miles away from home.

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