Studies Indicate that Travelers are Ready to Hit the Road, Still Cognizant of COVID

ben quiggle May 19, 2021
Man and woman camping outside RV

Just in case you forgot, the COVID pandemic isn’t over yet.

It will be great for everyone when we can go one news cycle without hearing anything about COVID, a reality that seems still distant, even with the news of more people receiving vaccinations.

For the travel sector, the COVID pandemic is still going to have an impact — albeit a smaller one — on travel patterns in 2021.

Some travelers are still reporting an increased level of caution due to the pandemic.

A recent study by Harvest Hosts, a company that provides a listing of unique camping destinations, shows that 32% of respondents indicated they would only travel with people who are fully vaccinated.

That is almost a third of travelers!

Around half of the respondents (52%) indicated they are willing to travel with both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Good news since many RV park and campground owners are not going to be checking to see if campers are vaccinated when they reserve a campsite.  

In the 2021 North American Camping Report, commissioned by Kampgrounds of America Inc., respondents indicated that vaccinations were somewhat of a factor in how much they would travel this year.

The report notes that almost half of campers say that the COVID vaccine will allow them to camp more often in 2021 and explains the vaccine is most likely to increase camping among Millennial and GenX campers. 

Millennial families are currently the largest segment of campers, notes the report.

Even with the COVID crisis still weighing on the minds of travelers, the Harvest Host study indicates that travelers are ready to spend some money.  

Half (53%) of the study's respondents noted that their 2021 travel budgets are in the range of $1,000 to $5,000.

This is similar to 2019, indicating that travel is picking back up to pre-COVID levels.

A Harris Poll survey found that more than half (53%) of travelers willbe traveling for the very first time since the start of the pandemic.

“Significant improvements in the health landscape have helped to turn the tide,” noted the survey. “In April, the Centers for Disease Control issued formal guidance stating that domestic travel is safe for vaccinated persons — which followed substantial research findings that travel could be low-risk in general with appropriate safeguards in place.”

There has also been a lot of chatter about vaccine passports. Cards that would help businesses to quickly identify travelers as being vaccinated, perhaps to enter venues and take part in certain activities.

How does that play out for campgrounds and RV parks? So far there has not been any chatter from park owners that are interested in asking for vaccine information at check-in, but the jury is still out on whether government entities could force businesses to do that at some point.

The Harvest Hosts survey notes that 74% of vaccinated and partially vaccinated respondents indicated they would comply if asked to at a park or other destination. However, 15% of that group noted a “reluctance” to show it, but still ultimately would.

Twenty percent of total respondents said they would decline to show their vaccine passport, even if it meant not entering an attraction.

“Across the board, feelings were split on destinations imposing the rules themselves,” noted the study. “When asked if vaccine passports were a requirement, 44% said they would be more interested in visiting and patronizing, while 38% stated they would be less interested. Around one-fifth (18%) of people are undecided on the issue and this could eventually impact how these businesses decide to operate in the post-vaccination era.”

Confusion with mask mandates and what it means to be vaccinated may also have an impact on travel, but studies indicate that travelers are ready to start traveling.

Still, many are prepared to do so while remaining cognizant of the COVID pandemic and want to stay at places that offer amenities and fun things to do, while also offering a sense of safety.

For park owners, they need to continue marketing the work they are doing to ensure the safety of their guests while staying at the park. Many hotels, entertainment destinations, amusement parks…etc. are still doing this by offering consumers a list of the steps they are taking to ensure their safety.

Are you doing extra cleaning? Do you require masks in some areas? Do you have new rules in place due to the COVID pandemic?

This is all information that should be shared with potential campers before they even register at a park.

We all are tired of having to think and hear about COVID, but it still is going to have an impact on business at least for another year — maybe even longer.

The outdoor hospitality industry is poised to have a big year in 2021 as more travelers look to engage with outdoor settings, but it is also imperative that the industry remains vigilant to any concerns consumers may have on the continuing COVID crisis.

As the old saying goes, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”