While the latest edition of Visa’s annual Global Travel Intentions Study may expectedly highlight the value of cashless solutions for travellers, it does deliver some insights on traveller habits, including the fact that travel continues to get shorter in length, but more international in manner.
Interestingly it does note that while travellers are increasingly using technology to plan their trips and navigate their destinations the majority of them are still decidedly analog when it comes to making payments internationally. The report shows that while many travellers use cards while on vacation, most (77%) still prefer to use cash when making purchases, despite the study also uncovering getting, carrying and exchanging cash as one of the main aspects of travel that can lead to anxiety and stress.
Travellers cited loss of cash or theft as a top money concern while on trips, while only slightly more than one in ten people made an ATM withdrawal at their destination with security one of the main concerns. Having exchanged currency before travel, a significant 87% of travellers have leftover cash after their trips, but only 29% convert it back to currency they can actually use at home. The global median leftover amount is USD123.
The report, based on at least 500 interviews across 27 country markets spread across the world in Jun-2017 and Jul-2017, uncovered a number of macro trends which are expected to continue into 2018. Here are some of the key highlights we picked out from the report:
- Desire to travel continues, with increase in frequency of travel across most markets: Globally, people are planning to take more trips in the future, from an average of 2.5 trips (up from 2.2 trips in 2015 report) in the past two years to 2.7 trips (up from 2.4 trips in 2015) in the next two years. The Americas lead the pack in number of trips in the past two years, taking an average of 3.2 trips in 2017, followed by Asia-Pacific (2.7 trips) and Europe (2.6 trips). Middle East and Africa trails right behind with 1.2 trips, albeit this is up from 1.0 trips in 2015. The biggest increases in frequency of travel is coming from developing markets such as Brazil, Mexico, China, Thailand and Malaysia.
- Travellers around the world are taking shorter trips: The global average is now eight nights, down from 10 nights on average in 2013 and nine-and-a-half in 2015. This differs by region with travellers from the Middle East and Africa taking the longest holidays (10.6 nights), compared with 9.7 nights in Europe, 8.7 nights across the Americas and just 7.1 nights across Asia-Pacific. Travellers from Asia in particular enjoy shorter breaks – compared to a global average of 9%, more than 20% of travellers from Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia had breaks of two nights or less.
- Intra-region travel is still dominant: As seen in previous years, three out of four trips taken in the past two years were within the same region. Europe and Asia-Pacific both have an intra-region share of 76%, the Americas slightly less at 72%, but the Middle East and Africa is much lower at 35%, only just above the 34% share into Europe. Travellers from Americas and Africa are most open to exploring outside their region/going long-haul; whilst Europeans and Asians are the keenest on proximity.
- Japan becomes most popular destination for global travellers: Japan, the United States of America (USA) and Australia are the most visited countries. Japan has overtaken USA as the most popular destination for global travellers in the past two years. Regional preferences prevail, though, with travellers in the Asia Pacific region leaning heavily toward Japan as a travel destination. American travellers prefer continental Europe, though Mexico, Canada and Japan are also highly desirable. Looking ahead to expected travel over the next two years and Japan, USA and Australia once again top the rankings ahead of Thailand and Italy.
- Technology is helping some travellers better navigate their destinations: Over four in five (88%) travellers gained online access while abroad and with increased internet connection at destination, transport platforms are now widely used while travelling – almost half (44%) use ride-sharing apps to get around once they are on the ground. Uber dominates with 34% of travellers having used the platform. Travellers from the Americas (52%) and Asia-Pacific (48%) are likely to be frequent users of ridesharing services during trips, compared with just 24% in Europe.
- Multi-destination breaks increasing in popularity: Around 11% of global travel includes visits to multiple countries. European destinations are the most popular choice for travellers outside of region of origin, but Australasia and Oceania are also gaining popularity.
- Travellers needs differ by region: Europeans seek culture and good weather; Americans are influenced by activities and local experiences; Asia-Pacific travellers are the most concerned with time available and accessibility of the destination; while travellers from the Middle East and Africa appreciate activities but are also concerned with budget.
- Online is dominant source of information at planning stage: An increasing number of people are going to online sources at the trip planning stage (up from 78% in 2015 to 83% in 2017). In fact offline sources dropped from 82% in 2015 to 47% in 2017. Significant growth in online sources for planning is evident across the Middle East where levels in Kuwait (66% in 2017 versus 32% in 2015) and Saudi Arabia (66% in 2017 versus 37% in 2018) have grown notably.
- Travel expenditure set to rise more than one third for future trips: The average global traveller spends USD1,793 per trip and that is expected to increase by 36.3% to USD2,443 for future travel, according to respondents. The Middle East and Africa travellers are the biggest spenders, but with little movement in expenditure for future bookings they will be overtaken by Americas travellers. Asia Pacific travellers are expected to deliver the highest increase in spend (up 45.7% for future trips).
- Saudi Arabia remains biggest spenders, but for how much longer?: Among the top global spenders, travellers from Australia, China, Kuwait and the United States of America (USA) remain optimistic when it comes to spending for their upcoming overseas travel. Saudi Arabian respondents are still the number one spenders, but are projected to spend less on their next international trips.
WANT TO KNOW MORE? Download the full report: Visa Global Travel Intentions Study