How will young europeans of generation Z travel?

How will young europeans of generation Z travel?

Travel in 2021 has been greatly disrupted by COVID-19. With many challenges facing the travel industry at the moment including international border closures in some countries and recommendations not to travel without an essential reason. 

The complexity is further highlighted with the multiple precautions that are put in place through each step of the travellers planning stages, such as a negative PCR test and ensuring that the traveller does not have any symptoms, amongst others.

A study on the travel trends among young European travellers during 2021 gives us insight into the current situation. This survey is focused on getting a closer look at Generation Z to discover their motivations, their favourite destinations, and the impact of the pandemic on the way that they travel. Generation Z is the generation born between 1997 and 2010. They are well known as being “digital natives” as they are the generation which was born and grew up in a digital world meaning that the internet, new technologies and social networks which previous generations learnt to understand over time, this generation grew up in close contact with. In other words, they can be defined as a hyper-connected generation.

For this research, we have focused on the French and Spanish youth aged 18 to 23, who represent the future of travel and tourism.

Their budget: identical to 2019

For most of the youth surveyed, their travel budget is the same as that of 2019, a year in which travel was possible. What we can see is that COVID-19 did not have a big impact on their travel budget. After a year of interrupted travel, the youth have a strong desire to travel and aim to invest in their vacations. Therefore, they have the same budget as in 2019. 

Moreover, 41% of this generation have set an annual travel budget for 2021 of between €500 and €1000.

Australia, the favourite destination

With over 11% of 18–23-year-olds from Spain and France agreeing on this destination, Australia comes out on top as the best tourist destination for this age group. The survey shows that Australia has a good image as a safe destination during the COVID-19 period, but also as an attractive destination which isn’t struggling with the management of the pandemic. 

These results differ from those of the European business intelligence platform, the European Traveller Intelligence Monitor (ETIM). This platform brings together surveys conducted in 2020 on travel trends in 2021 and preferred country rankings and is of great interest as it allows for the comparison of variations between data from 2020 and 2021. 

The ranking of countries with the best image according to Generation Z in 2020 is not the same. We find in first place European countries such as Italy with 93%, followed by Greece and the Canary Islands. 

We are therefore seeing a radical shift in travel plans for 2021 with the choice of destinations much further afield.

Instagram, the trendy social network

As for the sources of inspiration for young travellers in France and Spain, the survey confirms the importance of social media in the daily lives of Generation Z. With almost 70% of users choosing Instagram, the most used social network to get travel ideas. This is not surprising given the strong presence of youth on social media today. In addition to Instagram, recommendations from friends and family also count for a lot when selecting a destination.

Instagram has grown a lot lately. According to ETIM’s 2020 data, French and Spanish Generation Z did not have the same inspirations. Last year, Tiktok was one of their main sources of inspiration, especially because of the confinement and the great development of this application among the young people from this generation during this time period.

Discovering a new culture, the dream of young Europeans

85% of French and Spanish students are motivated to discover a new culture and new landscapes. They are also looking for contact with nature, outdoor experiences and the chance to go to restaurants and bars, as well as to meet new people. These desires are understandable as, after a year of social disconnection and limited travel, young people want to reconnect with the outside world.

According to the 2020 data from the ETIM platform, safety was a necessary factor. Now it is less important for young people because there are more concrete measures being put in place against COVID-19, such as the upcoming integration of the health passport, vaccination, PCR testing, etc. These measures did not exist in 2020 when things were more unclear.

Air travel remains the most practical mode of transport

Nearly 90% of young travellers will use air travel by 2021. Although it is not the most environmentally friendly mode of transport, it is the fastest and most useful for long-distance travel. In addition, flying is already expensive, so students do not have a large enough travel budget to afford greener travel.

The Erasmus programme: as relevant as before

The Erasmus programme supports and facilitates the academic mobility of students in Europe. In 2019, 102,476 people completed an academic semester with Erasmus with almost 60,000 students.

Young Europeans still have a strong interest in the Erasmus programme, with almost 60% positive responses. Despite the pandemic, cancelled and blocked trips, the young travellers who took the survey continue to trust the Erasmus programme to spend a semester abroad.

Another common form of travel for the youth is to take a gap year. This is defined as taking a year off from studies to go abroad, learn a language and acquire new knowledge or skills. Contrary to the Erasmus Programme, 50% of young people no longer think about taking a gap year compared to only 32% who are in favour of doing so.

Foreign travel, not so frequent

The pandemic has caused travel to stop for some time. Now, the return of travel is slowly taking place, but by 2021 Generation Z young people prefer to travel within their country of residence. This is because 49% plan to travel between 3 to 5 times within the country compared to 67% who only plan on travelling a maximum of 2 times abroad. With all the precautions to take when travelling, long-distance travel can quickly become inconvenient.

According to the survey conducted by Interface Tourism Spain, the top 3 barriers which effect travel are:

– Quarantine

– Cost of travel

– Lack of security at the destination

These factors are reflected in the new disadvantages of travelling with Covid-19.

The survey conducted by Interface Tourism Spain has provided insight into the travel trends and desires of Generation Z for part of the European population in 2021, a year that heralds the gradual return of travel around the world.

Clara Del Socorro

New Business Team

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