Key Factors Influencing Vacation Travel and Innovative Travel Strategies

This brief summarizes the results of relevant research on factoring impacting domestic and international travel, specifically focusing on factors affecting travel to Newfoundland, Canada. Among the factors impacting domestic travel, Canadians are more likely to visit Newfoundland if they have an interest in the natural and cultural attractions the area has to offer. Among the factors impacting travel to remote destinations like Newfoundland, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, research from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada indicates that safety measures for flights, the density of people at the destination, and reluctance to travel far distances could impact travel to Newfoundland in the foreseeable future. Additionally, based on research from the Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism and Destination Canada, factors impacting the desire of travelers from the US, the UK, and Germany to visit destinations in Canada are discussed below.

Factors Impacting Canadians’ Desire to Take Domestic Vacations

  • According to research from Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, “Canadian travelers see NL as a bucket list destination” due to unique experiences that the region offers.
  • According to Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, the natural attractions in the region are a major draw for domestic tourists.
  • Based on exit surveys of visiting Canadians, 91% of domestic tourists participate in outdoor activities while vacationing in Newfoundland.
  • Among the most popular outdoor activities, 79% of domestic tourists go hiking, 60% visit national parks, 55% go seabird watching, and 53% go whale watching.
  • Another element that draws Canadians to travel to Newfoundland is the area’s reputation for offering unique cultural experiences.
  • According to Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, 80% of domestic tourists visit historic sites while visiting Newfoundland.
  • Domestic tourists also seek out a number of cultural experiences while visiting Newfoundland, including visiting art galleries and exhibits (79%), exploring small, local communities (78%), visiting lighthouses (76%), and patronizing culinary businesses (72%).
  • The average domestic tourist who visits Newfoundland is a relatively high-earner, is well-educated, and has a family.
  • Over 77% of the domestic tourists who visit Newfoundland are over the age of 45.
  • Additionally, 78% have had post-secondary education.
  • Among domestic tourists, 47% earn an annual income of over $100,000.
  • Finally, 50% of domestic tourists to Newfoundland live in the province of Ontario.
  • According to a report from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), “the impact of the pandemic will have a major impact on Canadian traveler discretionary spending with more than a third of Canadians expressing worry about losing their livelihood in the next four weeks — the idea of travel will not be a priority as these Canadians attempt to get back on their feet when signs for post-COVID begin to emerge.”
  • Based on surveys, 34.5% of Canadians are concerned about becoming unemployed or losing business as a self-employed worker in April and May 2020.
  • Although different areas of the world are beginning to lift restrictions on businesses and travel, many jurisdictions are likely to continue enacting and enforcing modified restrictions in the near future.
  • Future restrictions from domestic travelers’ home areas and in Newfoundland itself could both decrease travelers’ interest and confidence in traveling to Newfoundland.
  • According to a report from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, “though global cases are trending down, most destinations, Canada included, will be very careful about lifting physical distancing rules and travel restrictions. Decisions about reopening non-essential businesses, schools, and public spaces will be made at the provincial and territorial level using a set of principals and approaches developed with the federal government. When restrictions are lifted, they may be done gradually with limited hours, days of operation, and likely resuming social distancing rules.”

Factors Impacting People’s Desire to Vacation in Remote Locations

  • Among international travelers, including the neighboring U.S., the length of flights to Canada are already a barrier for planning trips, so any factor that will increase consumer trust in flights post COVID-19 will help encourage travel to remote locations where air travel is a major avenue for reaching the destinations.
  • Among domestic travelers alone, 73% of Canadians arrive by plane and only 27% arrive by car.
  • According to research from the Tourism Industry of Canada (TIAC), “77.4% of American travelers say they would approve of mandatory health screenings for flights between destinations inside the continental United States. 76.5% feel positively about the notion of mandatory health screenings at airports and 61.2% say such measures will increase their confidence traveling to a destination.”
  • The need to continue reasonable social distancing is a major concern for people expressing interest in traveling once restrictions are lifted, especially among older travelers. Measures that would promote confidence in air travel would increase the likelihood that travelers would consider and commit to traveling to remote locations that require flying.
  • The report from the TIAC also found that “as the events sector recovers, size and travel will be the two major risk factors both countries and attendees will look at when evaluating the risk of attendance. Large events are associated with more risk of contracting the virus. Long-distance and international travel will be perceived as major risk factors as we have no (perceived) control over what another state or country is doing to prevent the spread of the virus. This leaves space for smaller, local initiatives to continue.”
  • Many of the activities that appeal to both domestic and international travel in remote locations such as Newfoundland include outdoor activities like hiking, wilderness tours, and exploring small cultural centers. As a result, highlighting the relatively isolated nature of these activities could encourage people planning on traveling to consider remote destinations in their plans.
  • The TIAC report found that the age of people planning to travel after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted also has an impact on where and when they plan to travel.
  • According to the TIAC report, “while younger travelers say they are more likely to participate in the next six months in activities that tend to have higher density like cruises, concerts and theater performances, those aged 35–49 and 50–64 are suggesting a greater likelihood to travel domestically or stay in a hotel in the next six months.”
  • As older travelers make up a significant portion of the domestic travelers to Newfoundland, the remote nature of many of the popular activities in the region could attract more visitors in favor of other, more crowded locations.
  • Research from the TIAC has revealed that while some people have expressed interest in some form of travel post-COVID-19 restrictions, the types of trips that they are looking to make are more likely to be relatively close to home.
  • Based on survey data, post COVID-19 restrictions, “a majority of travelers may look to make the switch from short-haul air to longer train rides and auto trips to travel across the country — destinations need to consider an increase in visitors via auto and train routes post-lifting of travel restrictions.”
  • A majority of domestic travelers (73%) and a significant number of U.S. travelers rely on flights to travel to Newfoundland, not to mention international travelers from other countries, which means a switch to train rides and auto trips could decrease traffic to the region.
  • Much of the draw to travel to Newfoundland is in the unique cultural and natural attractions the region has to offer.
  • However, during COVID-19 restrictions, the region’s travel industry has suffered significant losses, in part due to the remoteness of the area.
  • Many of the businesses that run operations based on local attractions are seasonal, and the start of COVID-19 restrictions coincided with the beginning of the tourist season in Newfoundland.
  • As a result, the report from TIAC has found that many people running local tourism businesses, including companies offering wilderness tours, have already decided to close for the entire 2020 season to find employment elsewhere. This means there will be less capacity to handle and/or attract visitors to Newfoundland for the remainder of the 2020 season, even if normal travel were to resume.

Factors Impacting International Travel Among People from the US, the UK, and Germany

  • The Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT) researched the impact of direct-to-consumer advertising of destinations in Atlantic Canada on consumers living in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions of the U.S. in 2018 and found that a major barrier to travel to Newfoundland was competition with destinations in other Canadian provinces and in the U.S. itself.
  • Overall, the ACAT research found that “New England travelers were more likely to visit each of the Atlantic Provinces except for [Newfoundland and Labrador] compared to Mid-Atlantic travelers.”
  • However, American travelers from both New England and the Mid-Atlantic states were still more likely to favor domestic locations along the East Coast of the U.S. over Canadian destinations.
  • Based on the 2018 ACAT research, another major barrier to travel to Canada from the U.S. was the perception Americans had that the cost to travel to different regions in Atlantic Canada would not be worth the experience of a trip and that other destinations would provide better value for the expense.
  • Among the characteristics of a destination that Americans surveyed had expressed were important to them, the ACA research identified the following: “provides intellectually stimulating travel experiences, having cities that are great for exploring and soaking in the atmosphere, having a unique culture that I would want to experience on a vacation, and being a place where I can experience things that I can’t experience at home.”
  • Among the travelers from the Mid-Atlantic states that had visited Canada, the ATAC research found “there is a significant propensity to visit Ontario and Quebec as part of a trip to Canada. Finding ways to differentiate each of the Atlantic Provinces and highlight key characteristics that are important to the target population will be key to continue to drive growth.”
  • Additionally, the American travelers surveyed ranked destinations for travel in the following order: 1) New England, 2) Atlantic Canada, and 3) Mid-Atlantic states. This suggests that there is interest in visiting Atlantic Canada that is being inhibited by American travelers’ lack of knowledge of the attractions in the region.
  • According to research from Destination Canada, “among those considering Canada, destination knowledge stands at 37%, also unchanged from 2016. However, growing knowledge of South Africa (44%, up significantly from 30% in 2016) and New Zealand (39% versus 34% in 2016) has relegated Canada to sixth spot, behind the US (58%), Australia (46%), South Africa (44%), Thailand (39%), and New Zealand (39%). Efforts to boost knowledge of Canadian travel opportunities could pay off by helping to move potential visitors along the path-to-purchase.”
  • Among UK travelers, those who have visited Canada previously are the most likely to express interest (48%) in taking a future trip to Canada.
  • Of UK long-haul travelers, 40% have taken a vacation to Canada, and a higher rate (53%) of travelers over age 55 have done so.
  • Based on Destination Canada’s research, UK travelers would base an entire trip around “natural attractions (29%), Northern lights (25%), wildlife viewing (19%), and historical sites (19%),” but their knowledge of these activities in Canada is low, which is inhibiting their interest in traveling there.
  • Among travelers from the UK to Canada, “older travelers aged 55+ have fewer barriers to visiting and are most likely to say nothing will prevent them from traveling to Canada. They represent the best immediate opportunity.”
  • In contrast, younger travelers from the UK are more likely to cite cost, interest in visiting other destinations, and the length of flights to Canada as primary barriers to booking a trip.
  • Based on research from Destination Canada, the relative effect of cost as a deterrent of travel to Canada increases as “those further along at the evaluation stage (gathering information or planning a visit) are now more likely to cite cost as a potential barrier than those at the consideration phase suggesting that price/value concerns intensify as UK travelers proceed through the purchase cycle.”
  • According to research from Destination Canada, Germans’ interest in traveling to specific destinations within Canada is based on their knowledge of “landscape-based icons (Rocky Mountains and Niagara Falls)” and many view Canada as an “aspirational destination.”
  • Additionally, when compared to other countries that are top destinations (i.e. the US, India, Thailand, Australia), Canada ranks highly as a dream destination for German travelers, and around 13% of Germans were found to be actively planning a visit in 2017, which was consistent with previous years.
  • However, lack of knowledge of specific destinations within the country of Canada appears to limit the conversion of German travelers interested in visiting Canada into actual tourists.
  • Of the places that Germans do have knowledge of, the majority of them are in the provinces of Ontario (54%) and British Columbia (52%). Only 19% of German travelers expressed interest in visiting the Atlantic provinces of Canada, where Newfoundland is located.
  • German travelers were also asked “which vacation activities are important enough that they would base an entire trip around them. Natural attractions (36%), nature parks (32%), wildlife viewing (29%), hiking/walking (25%), and exploring places most tourists won’t go (25%) are the top trip anchor activities.”
  • Another feature of trips that Germans value is visiting highly rare experiences, “exploring places most tourists won’t go,” which suggests that marketing that better informs Germans of the unique attractions and remote locations in Newfoundland would encourage them to consider visiting.
  • Destination Canada’s research also identified that entry requirements are “an important consideration for German travelers, with 80% saying securing an entry visa before booking is important.”
  • Costs of travel to Canada is another barrier for Germans (43%) planning trips to the country, but that is significantly less likely to affect their interest in visiting if they have been to Canada before (28%).
  • For German travelers that have been to Canada previously, they are more concerned with safety or with the potential for travel delays at the airport or at border control.

Research Strategy

Generally, researchers will prioritize the recency of sources to provide the most up-to-date and relevant information. However, in this case, two of the sources used, reports from Destination Canada on global tourism to Canada from the UK and Germany, were published in 2017. These sources were chosen because they provided reasonably recent and valuable data that was focused on the requested information of factors that specifically included data relevant to travel to Newfoundland, which was a top priority. In combination with the more recent sources used, including a 2020 report from Tourism Industry Association of Canada on how COVID-19 is impacting the travel industry in Canada, these sources helped provide a complete profile of factors affecting various elements of international travel to Newfoundland and what strategies could potentially help encourage travel to Newfoundland in the foreseeable future.

Innovative Travel Strategies

Examples of programs used to promote travel and tourism in a certain destination include Portugal Stopover (TAP Air Portugal) and Stopover Hola Madrid (Iberia Airlines). Portugal Stopover promotes tourism in Porto/Lisbon by offering free stopovers, free meals, discounted tickets, a travel app, and videos that feature travelers’ experiences. Stopover Hola Madrid promotes tourism in Madrid, Spain by offering free stopovers, free public transportation, discounted tickets, guidebooks, and expert personal guides.

1. Portugal Stopover (TAP Air Portugal)

  • TAP Air Portugal launched the Portugal Stopover program in July 2016. The goal of the program is to encourage travelers transiting through Porto or Lisbon to stay for up to five nights before flying to their final destinations. The final destinations include 75 cities across Europe (including other Portuguese cities), Africa, and the Middle East.
  • Portugal Stopover allows travelers to stay for up to five nights in Porto or Lisbon without paying any stopover fee. They can also enjoy free wine and meals at selected restaurants. Visitors also have the opportunity to enjoy local experiences at discounted prices.
  • The Portugal Stopover app acts as a travel companion for visitors and includes features that promote Porto and Lisbon. The app allows users to plan their trip, receive personalized suggestions, access the Stopover Card, and view offline maps and useful information about Porto and Lisbon. It is available on the Apple Store and Google Play Store.
  • TAP Air Portugal has published a series of videos to promote Porto and Lisbon. Stopover Stories has 13 episodes to date. Each episode features travelers talking about their stopover experiences in Porto or Lisbon.

2. Stopover Hola Madrid (Iberia Airlines)

  • Iberia Airlines launched the Stopover Hola Madrid program in August 2019. The objectives of the program include improving Iberia’s customer service, strengthening its Madrid hub, and increasing demand for long-haul routes. Stopover Hola Madrid targets travelers on flights from Latin America who are making their connection at the Madrid airport before continuing with another Iberia flight.
  • Stopover Hola Madrid allows travelers to stay for up to six nights in Madrid without paying any stopover fee. They will also receive tourist cards that allow them to use public transport for free for two days. Visitors are also able to enjoy local experiences and book accommodations at discounted prices.
  • Iberia provides travelers with guidebooks and expert personal guides as part of its city promotion strategies. The free guidebooks include information about transportation, climate, sightseeing sites, and dining establishments in Madrid. The personal guides, known as Biduzzers, will help visitors to create 100% tailor-made trips.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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