Pent-up travel demand could drive Americans to get COVID-19 vaccine 

Would the ability to vacation without coronavirus worries motivate you to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

In a nationwide online survey of 513 Americans who have traveled for leisure in the past year, 63% (324) said they were likely or very likely to get the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available. Of those, 74% said they were motivated by travel.

Our natural desire for travel has been suppressed in the past 10 months,” said Lori Pennington-Gray, Ph.D., director of the University of Florida’s Tourism Crisis Management Initiative, who has been monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on Americans’ travel plans since January. 

most travelers said they were likely or very likely to get a coronavirus vaccine

63% of people who traveled for leisure in the past year said they were likely or very likely to get a coronavirus vaccine.

74% of travelers wanted to get the vaccine so they could travel more.

Of the 63% of travelers who said they were likely or very likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine, 74% said they were motivated by travel.

In the most recent survey, conducted Nov. 16, respondents were remarkably relaxed about the safety of holiday travel. When asked to indicate how they felt about travel in the United States over the holidays, 23% said they felt anxious, while 53% felt relaxed. (The rest indicated they were either “somewhat anxious” or “somewhat relaxed.”)

While 23% of those surveyed did not plan to travel for the 2020 holiday season, nearly 80% did have travel plans, although 48% characterized those plans as tentative. 

“They are probably hopeful that they can travel safely during the holidays while social distancing and taking precautions like wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer,” Pennington-Gray said.

Whether airlines and destinations will enact different procedures for vaccinated vs. unvaccinated travelers remains to be seen.  

“I think the industry will still be committed to safety, whether that is traveler safety, resident safety or employee safety,” Pennington-Gray said. “They will continue to reinforce CDC recommendations for good public health practices.” 

UF’s Tourism Crisis Management Initiative is the only tourism-focused academic crisis management institute in the world. TCMI is housed in the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute within the College of Health and Human Performance’s department of tourism, hospitality and event management. TCMI develops research-driven solutions that address planning, preparedness, response and recovery in local, state and national tourism economies. 

Illustration by Shannon Alexander/Story by Alisson Clark November 19, 2020