In its Travel Outlook for the summer of 2020, the Conference Board of Canada reports that summer travel intentions have fallen to the lowest level ever amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic
The Conference Board notes that as expected, the proportion of surveyed Canadians planning to take a leisure trip this summer has plummeted to its lowest level ever recorded — a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated physical distancing requirements and travel restrictions currently in place.
Overall, just 45% of Canadians are planning to take a leisure trip in the coming months, a massive decline compared to previous years.
The proportion of respondents who are currently planning any leisure travel this summer has decreased most dramatically in Alberta (-38%), Ontario (-36%) and BC (-35%).
Of those planning a trip, less than one-third intend to leave the country (31%), while 65% are planning to travel domestically.
However, the Conference Board points out that despite this negative sentiment, there is an element of “wait and see” being reported.
The share of respondents who are currently unsure about their upcoming travel plans has jumped to 22% compared to 9% one year ago.
Of these potential travellers, 80% cited COVID-19 as the primary reason they are unsure about their summer travel activity.
In addition, more than half of respondents who outright said they would not be taking an overnight leisure trip pointed to the virus as the main driver of their decision.
Forty-three per cent of those who reported they were unsure or would not travel in the coming months took a leisure trip last summer.
If restrictions are eased and a conservative portion of previous travellers who are currently uncertain about their summer plans change their minds, overall travel intentions could increase to 50% to 60%.
However, any additional travel not currently being considered is likely to have a domestic destination.
While there is an element of optimism in the reported travel intentions, a larger share of travellers than last year are still in the dreaming phase of trip planning (+9.4%) and a much smaller share has completed the booking process (-7.4%); additional indicators of the significant uncertainty in the market.
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