The coronavirus pandemic not only changed the forecasts of the aeronautical industry, for which traditional business flights and mass events would be reduced in the coming years, but it also generated changes in the habits of travelers, who now look at other variables when planning their flights.
Prior to outbreaks in Europe, a survey by the Interamerican Network firm, carried out in six Latin American countries (Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Chile), showed that as the pandemic progresses, one in four travelers in these nations (26.9 percent) contemplated traveling alone when there is a widely available vaccine against covid-19, being the option most chosen by those consulted.
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And, according to the results, Colombia and Peru have the lowest percentage of people who would feel safe to take a flight only when this happens (that is, there are more people willing to travel without vaccination), since this option marked 15 percent in these two countries, while in Brazil the percentage was 29 percent; in Mexico, 30 percent; and Argentina and Chile, 25 percent.
Further, the percentage of people who would feel safe to travel again in the first half of 2021 reached 35 percent in Colombia and Peru, while 22 percent responded that they would do so in the second half of next year.
However, among the six countries analyzed, both Colombia and Peru had the highest percentage of travelers who would only feel safe when flying from the year 2022, with 11 percent.
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On the other hand, the survey showed that the greatest concern when choosing the next travel destination continues to be the places that have safety, health and hygiene policies, with 27.47 percent of the responses, a percentage that in the case of Colombia and Peru was at 26 percent.
In this second survey, places that are not too crowded was a new option included, which ended up receiving the second highest mention (22.5 percent), ahead of flexibility if plans are to be changed, which came in second in June, and in Colombia and Peru it had 19 percent.
In turn, price continues to be an important equation in the destination choice process (18.12 percent), unlike places that offer good hospital care, which again came in last place.
But in the case of Colombia, travel flexibility and taking them ahead of time had 21 percent of mentions, while the price marked 20 percent of the mentions of the travelers consulted.
“Due to the financial impact caused by the pandemic, these travelers will be more cautious, since the price of tourist products will be a third decisive factor, even above the attendance of the place or if it has hospital or emergency assistance”, points out one of the findings of the survey in these two countries.
Travel at the last minute, habit that goes down
Another relevant piece of information from the survey has to do with the change in habit that the pandemic generated when planning your trip.
“A famous habit seems to have been hit hard by the pandemic: abandoning the myth of solving everything at the last minute27 percent of those interviewed say that they intend to resolve the trip at least six months in advance, “he adds.
In Argentina, the highest percentage (27 percent) of respondents intend to make travel plans 3 months in advance, which, overall, was the second most voted option (21 percent). In this option, Colombia and Peru had 22 percent; Mexico, 20 percent. And Brazil, 22 percent.
When it comes to managing travel, planning alone and directly with hotels, airlines continue as the most chosen option in the region (58 percent), increasing eight percentage points compared to the June survey.
In Colombia and Peru this answer was given by 51 percent of those consulted, in Brazil the percentage was 71 percent, in Mexico it was 54 percent, while in Argentina and Chile it was the lowest, with 33 percent.
They are followed by traditional travel agencies, far ahead of online travel agencies (OTAs). In the former, 46 percent would pay for complete packages and 19 percent would buy everything with an OTA.
Internal destinations and Europe, the main
When analyzing the most desired type of trip, those made within the country itself are still the first, although they went from 60 percent in June to 47 percent in October, according to the Interamerican Network firm.
In this sense, Europe remains in second place, and has grown from 14 percent to 21 percent in Latin American traveler preferences, which for the firm can demonstrate a certain acceptance by the public of this new way of traveling.
“The destinations that were wiped off the map by the pandemic, according to the responses, are mainly in Europe and the United States,” adds the survey document.
But in Colombia and Peru the situation is different since only 38 percent consider traveling somewhere in their own country, while 16 percent expect to do it to Europe and 15 percent to the United States, since this country continues to be the main destination abroad for Colombian travelers.
When asked about the impact of the pandemic on travel, only Brazilians believe that the changes will be few and not significant, with 53.94 percent of the responses.
But, in total, the majority of Latin American tourists believe that there will be a before and after the pandemic and that the trips will be totally different (53.78 percent).
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ÓMAR G. SMOKED RED
Deputy Editor of Economics and Business at EL TIEMPO
On Twitter: @omarahu