2021 year for luxury travel?

After a year that left us locked down and staring at the same four walls at home, Tripadvisor’s latest research reveals a new mindset to book luxury travel in 2021.

Based on global traveller search behaviours and sentiment data across six markets (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Japan and Singapore), the message filters through; “people want to make this year count.”

Travel consumers, having sacrificed vacation time in 2020, are preparing to spend more on luxury accommodation and destinations.

“Out with the weekend backpacking and budget hotels, and in with the beachside villas and picture-perfect locations,” Tripadvisor says is now the dominant sentiment.

Despite the financial impact of Covid-19 hitting that intensified during the first three weeks of January, global travellers on Tripadvisor were searching for pricier trips than they had in the past two years (during the same period).

In fact, the average cost of a single future trip in 2021 that travellers globally are planning on Tripadvisor jumped 13 per cent since January 2019. In the UK and Singapore, that rises even more significantly, to 64 per cent and 45 per cent respectively since 2019.

When looking at the international destinations showing the biggest increase in hotel searches for trips planned in 2021, based on searches in the first two weeks of January (versus the same period in 2020), it is clear to see where some of those dollars may be going.

In APAC, travellers are longing for high-end trips to visit cities like Singapore, Bangkok and Dubai. While travellers in Brazil, Germany and Spain prefer the overwater bungalows and pristine waters of Bora Bora and the Maldives as they seek relaxation to melt away the worries of the past year.

These same trends can be seen in the destinations that are popping on the Tripadvisor travel wish list — spots people have been “saving” on Tripadvisor in the last 12 months.

Winners in the emerging destinations category of the 2021 Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards for Destinations include the white sands and stunning volcanic landscapes of Martinique, the gastronomic delights of Armacao dos Buzios, and the bustling and vibrant Male in the heart of the Maldives.

Going deluxe

Some of the projected increased travel spend seen on Tripadvisor may not just be down to the type of destinations travellers are booking, but also the type of accommodation they are choosing, as more than one in ten (11 per cent) global travellers said that they plan to go luxe on accommodation in 2021.

In fact, of the six nations surveyed, travellers from Singapore and the US are the most likely to have already booked a luxury hotel stay in 2021 – almost one in five have already done so (19 per cent and 18 per cent respectively), compared to a global average of one in seven (14 per cent).

With more than a year of self-care to make up for, this is also true of recent search behaviour for luxury accommodation on Tripadvisor in January 2021.

Multiple trips

The 2021 travel splurge is not just apparent in the cost of each trip, but also the number of trips travellers plan to take throughout the year. More than a quarter of Singaporeans (28 per cent) surveyed said that they plan to take three or more international trips in 2021 – this is ahead of the global average of 24 per cent.

“If dipping your toes in the bath was the closest you came to a poolside break last year, then you are not alone,” said Tripadvisor senior research analyst Val Anthony.

“2020 was a year the world’s horizons narrowed by necessity, but that has only made travellers everywhere more determined than ever to spend big on adventure and exploration in 2021, and we are seeing that in the trips millions are planning around the world.”

Maldives reopened its borders to foreign tourists on July 15, 2020, after it remained suspended for a few months in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the border reopening, 30-day free on-arrival visa is issued to all tourists with a confirmed booking for a stay at any registered tourist facility in the country.

There is no mandatory quarantine or testing on arrival, but tourists have to complete an online health declaration form and provide a negative PCR test result taken at least 96 hours prior to their departure.

Visitors with symptoms of the Covid-19 respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus or those travelling with someone who has similar symptoms are also tested at their own expense.

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