2021 Travel and Tourism Statistics

It's 2021 and statistics are showing that people are travelling once again. 

After a solid year of staying home, masking up and keeping our collective distance, people are hungry to explore the world.

Is it any wonder that when it comes to the best corporate discount programs, association member benefits, white-label rewards programs, and membership perks in general, discounted travel is often among the most hotly pursued additions to the mix. 

So to better understand today’s traveler, we at Access have compiled statistics from research studies by travel and tourism related sources. This article is for statistics published in 2021, but you can find all these and more from recent years in our Travel and Tourism Statistics: The Ultimate Collection.

Most of these stats are focused on Americans who travel – though other nationalities may creep into the mix from time to time. We've provided source links for each statistic. Sometimes you’ll find the data conflicts with other sources - so we’ll leave it up to you to decipher which is most accurate.

We'll keep this list updated regularly with the latest and greatest. If you know of a stat we're missing, or want your own research included in our collection, leave us a note in the comments. Enjoy!

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Travel Costs: How Much People Spend

In 2021, totals for money spent on travel in 2020 were released, revealing a major drop in travel spending. The next several statistics below show 2020 spending, with 2019 shown for comparison. 2021 spending will be added as statistics are released.

  • In 2020, international travelers spent $83 billion compared to $233 billion in 2019, a loss of 64% (US Travel)
  • In 2020, International travelers spent money on US goods and services:
    • Travel spending - $38.1 billion (compared to $139 billion in 2019)
    • Passenger fares - $26.5 billion (compared to $40.1 billion in 2019)
    • Education-related - $37.4 billion (compared to $44 billion in 2019)
    • Health-related - $0.2 billion (compared to $1.2 billion in 2019)
    • Border/seasonal workers - $7.6 billion (compared to $9.1 billion in 2019) (US Travel)
  • US travel spending in 2020 totaled $680.3 billion ($642.2 billion domestic travel spending and $38.1 billion international spending) (US Travel)
  • US travel spending in 2019 totaled $1,172.6 billion ($993.5 billion domestic travel spending and $179.1 billion international spending) (US Travel)

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Traveler Demographics: A Profile of People Who Travel

  • 58% of business travelers say they are traveling in the summer of 2021 for work (Morning Consult)
  • 77% of US adults have stayed in a hotel or resort, 65% have flown and 27% have taken a cruise (Morning Consult)
  • 51% of business travelers said they traveled for business at least four times a year pre-pandemic compared to 31% during the pandemic (Morning Consult)
  • 34% of business travelers said they haven’t traveled at all since the pandemic started (as of summer 2021) (Morning Consult)
  • 3 in 10 business travelers don’t plan to travel for business at all in 2021 (Morning Consult)

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Travel Destinations: Where People Go When They Travel

  • 65% of leisure travelers did not travel internationally in 2020 (TripAdvisor)
  • 47% of travelers globally say they plan to travel internationally in 2021 (TripAdvisor)
  • 30% of travelers globally say won’t travel internationally in 2021 (TripAdvisor)
  • 11% of travelers have already booked an international trip for 2021, and an additional 17% say they are researching international trips with the intent to book (TripAdvisor)
  • 13% of US travelers have booked an international trip in 2021 (TripAdvisor)
  • Hotel searches for trips in Jan-Apr 2021 are predominantly for domestic locations, while searches for trips in May-Dec 2021 are predominantly for international locations (TripAdvisor)
  • 77% of travelers globally say they will be more likely to travel internationally, and 86% domestically, if they receive the COVID-19 vaccine (TripAdvisor)
  • 34% of US travelers say they are much more likely to take an international trip in 2021 once they’ve received the vaccine (TripAdvisor)
  • 26% of travelers globally, 30% of US travelers, say they will only travel to destinations that require visitors to be vaccinated before travel (TripAdvisor)
  • 64% of people who plan to travel in 2021, plan to take 2+ domestic trips (TripAdvisor)
  • 60% of people who plan to travel in 2021, plan to take local trips (TripAdvisor)
  • In the first week of January, nearly 70% of hotel clickers on Tripadvisor were booking domestic trips (TripAdvisor)
  • Globally, 74% of travelers plan to take at least one domestic trip, and 45% plan at least 2 domestic trips, in 2021 (TripAdvisor)
  • 34% of US travelers are planning at least three domestic trips in 2021 (TripAdvisor)

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Reasons & Decisions: Why People Travel & How They Decide

  • 74% of travelers say they will spend more time choosing a destination this year in 2021 (TripAdvisor)
  • 66% of travelers say they will spend more time reading reviews about destinations in 2021 (TripAdvisor)
  • 72% of travelers say they will spend more time selecting their accommodations in 2021 (TripAdvisor)
  • 70% of travelers say they will spend more time finding things to do at their travel destination in 2021 (TripAdvisor)
  • The top factors that influence consumer trust in travel and hospitality businesses include:
    • Is reliable or dependable (85%)
    • Has good customer service and is responsive to problems (84%)
    • Protects customers’ data, privacy and security (83%)
    • They have a good safety record (83%)
    • They make me feel secure and safe (83%)
    • Consistently delivers on what they promise (82%)
    • Is a good value for the price (82%)
    • Treats customers well , even in tough times (82%)
    • They regularly clean and sanitize (81%)
    • Has always treated me well (80%) (Morning Consult)
  • The top factors that cause consumers to lose trust in travel and hospitality businesses include:
    • They mistreat passengers’ luggage or personal possessions (86%)
    • They have surprise fees (85%)
    • You had a bad experience with them or their customer service (85%)
    • They do not follow clear safety precautions (85%)
    • They had a data breach and your personal information was compromised (85%)
    • They are known for not being reliable (84%)
    • They do not regularly clean or sanitize (84%) (Morning Consult)
  • 35% of millennials say they have lost trust in a travel or hospitality brand and, as a result, will never use that brand again (Morning Consult)
  • Business travelers (61%) and wealthier Americans (57%) say if they trust a brand, they go out of their way to purchase from them. This is higher than the average among adult travelers (44%) (Morning Consult)
  • 8 of the 10 most trusted travel and hospitality brands are hotels or resorts, with only one airline on the list (Morning Consult)
  • Overall, travelers have a higher net trust in travel brands than they did before the pandemic (Morning Consult)
  • 65% of US adults say they would stop purchasing from a travel brand if it did not follow safety precautions, 62% would stop purchasing if a company failed to regularly clean (Morning Consult)
  • 47% of US adults say they tend to trust travel and hospitality companies by default, only losing trust if the company does something bad (Morning Consult)
  • 32% of US adults say travel and hospitality companies have to earn their trust (Morning Consult)
  • 57% of all US adults say trust is a major factor in deciding on travel brands. Trust is even more important to consumers who are members of airline and hotel rewards programs (64%) and business travelers (64%) (Morning Consult)


Travel Activities: What People Do When They Travel

  • 72% of travelers are excited to return to amusement parks after the pandemic, 68% to movie theaters, 67% to bars/clubs, 79% to concerts and 74% to sporting events (Cardify)

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Other Travel Statistics

  • In March 2020, international visitations were down 96% compared to March 2019 as a result of pandemic lockdowns on travel (US Travel)
  • In the year 2020, international travel to the US fell by 76% compared to 2019 (US Travel)
  • Prior to the pandemic, direct travel jobs accounted for 6% of the workforce and total travel-supported jobs accounted for 11% (US Travel)
  • In 2020, direct travel jobs accounted for 35% of jobs lost and total travel supported jobs accounted for 65% of jobs lost (US Travel)
  • 62% of travel and hospitality companies offer email support, 46% have Twitter profiles. Only 12% of travel companies are responsive via both email and social support (Netomi)
  • From the travel and hospitality companies that offer support, 70% of emails and 46% of Twitter direct messages are never answered (Netomi)
  • When travel and hospitality companies offer customer support, 97% of email responses do not provide a meaningful answer in the initial email response and 72% of companies don’t provide a relevant response on social media (Netomi)
  • When travel and hospitality companies answer customer inquiries, 57% respond to emails within the first 3 hours, and 22% respond within the first 15 minutes on Twitter (Netomi)
  • Only 11% of travel and hospitality companies show empathy in email responses and 26% don’t show any empathy on social media support (Netomi)
  • The largest travel and hospitality companies (5,000+ employees) were the slowest responders on email, with an average response time of over 27 hours, but the quickest on Twitter, responding to social messages in 5.8 hours, on average (Netomi)

Got Travelers of Your Own?

We at Access Development know a thing or two about wholesale travel benefits and the white-label travel platforms used to increase member engagement. Contact us and learn about our private travel network for groups and organizations. Whether it's deep discounts or cash-back travel rewards of up to 50% on hotel bookings, car rentals, theme park tickets and more, Access has the platform you need to offer your travelers unparalleled worldwide value. 

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Topics: Customer Engagement, Customer Incentives, Member Benefits, Travel, value enhancement, travel club incentives, tourism statistics, vacation statistics, business travel statistics, travel statistics

Written by: Kendra Lusty

For over a decade, Kendra Lusty has been a writer for Access Development, and currently focuses her research and writing on topics related to loyalty and engagement.

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