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Travelers Call for Change as Tourism Recovers from Pandemic, Faces Uncertainty


JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA—Travelers want the global tourism sector to learn the lessons of the pandemic, and to change for the better, a brand-new global survey has found. The Future of Tourism Survey explored attitudes to travel and the expectations of consumers in 11 countries around the world. It found that:

  • 44 percent of respondents called for greater harmonization of health protocols and the use of technology to enable seamless travel.
  • 34 percent wanted to see greater sustainability at the heart of tourism.
  • 29 percent wanted to see health and sustainability prioritized over profits for the travel sector.
  • 33 percent called for greater financial protections for travelers—likely in response to the experience of the pandemic.

People from China, India, and South Korea were most in favor of greater harmonization of safety protocols and use of technology to make travel simpler.

Conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, almost 14,000 people were polled, across China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, and Sweden.

His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia said: “The pandemic has a profound impact on the global tourism sector. It has shown us all—travelers, tourists, businesses, and governments, that we can do things differently. The Future of Tourism Survey shows that the public want us to learn the lessons of the pandemic and to make changes that put health, sustainability, and the better use of technology, at the heart of future tourism.”

Gauging Changing Attitudes

The survey found that the travelers’ attitudes have changed following two years of pandemic and lock downs which have constrained travel. Fifty-five percent of respondents are now more likely to travel domestically. And 32 percent of people are more willing to make an international trip than they were before COVID.

Economic uncertainty and rising prices have damped enthusiasm for travel over the next 6 months. Globally, 42 percent of people are either likely or very likely to travel internationally for a holiday, compared with 39 percent who are either unlikely or very unlikely to do so.

The biggest impact, however, has been on business travel. Just 18 percent of respondents consider themselves likely or very likely to travel for internationally for business.

Chinese, Japanese and Americans were least optimistic about the prospect of international travel. By contrast British, Indians and Saudis considered themselves most likely to travel internationally in the next six months.

Travel and Tourism’s Huge Impact

Prior to the pandemic, travel and tourism (including its direct, indirect and induced impacts) accounted for 1 in 4 of all new jobs created across the world, 10.3 percent of all jobs (333 million), and 10.3 percent of global GDP ($9.6 trillion).

His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia said: “Saudi Arabia is a brand-new tourism destination. We opened our doors to international tourism just before the pandemic, and because of that we are willing and able to think and act in new and different ways. By aligning vision, leadership and resources we have been able to create a new model for tourism which is more resilient and more sustainable by design. We look forward to sharing our insights and to working with our international partners to build a brighter future for tourism.”

The World Economic Forum recently released its Travel and Tourism Development Index. Saudi Arabia moved up 10 places to 33rd in the world overall. The independent index benchmarks 117 countries on 17 pillars crucial to the development and resiliency of their travel and tourism industries.

Saudi moved from 43rd in 2019 to 33rd in 2021, the second largest rise in rankings, as a result of improvements across almost all indicators. This was the first report to be produced since Saudi opened for international tourism in September 2019.