Floridians have begun making their travel plans for the holiday season. According to a AAA Travel survey released last week, almost half (48 percent) of residents book their holiday trips by the end of October.
“Time is of the essence for people who plan to take a flight this holiday season,” said Debbie Haas, the vice president of travel for AAA and the Auto Club Group. “As we get closer to the holidays, airfares often rise as availability shrinks. We recommend you book by Halloween, for the best chance of finding the flight you want at a favorable rate.
“We’ve recently seen numerous flight delays and cancellations, and even more are possible during the holidays,” Haas continued. “So if you’re planning a flight, you may want to consider travel insurance. If your flight is canceled, there are various policies that would help offset unexpected expenses like a hotel, transportation and food. You may also receive compensation for lost luggage, or if your flight is delayed for as little as three hours.”
AAA will release its Thanksgiving travel forecast on Nov. 9.
THE CRUISE COMEBACK
As flight capacity becomes strained during the holidays, Floridians are in the enviable position of being able to drive to catch a cruise. In Q4, 24 percent of Florida travelers will vacation at a beach destination, 21 percent will go to a theme park and 14 percent will take an ocean cruise.
“Cruising during the holidays is extremely popular,” Haas said. “It’s a great way to travel with your extended family while allowing the cruise staff to handle all the cooking and cleanup. A number of new ships are returning to service in Florida ports. As these sailings begin, Floridians will find fully staffed ships, with enhanced safety equipment and procedures, sailing at less than the full passenger capacity. This is leading to great values for near-in departures and also for the holidays.”
VACCINE PROVIDING CONFIDENCE FOR HOLIDAY TRAVELERS
Two in five (43 percent) Floridians plan to take a vacation of three days or more during the 2021 holiday season. Meanwhile, 11 percent have not yet decided. Fewer than half (44 percent) of Floridians without holiday travel plans are staying home for fear of contracting or spreading COVID-19.
Compared to last year, when a vaccine wasn’t available, 35 percent of Floridians are more comfortable traveling this holiday season. Meanwhile, two in five (42 percent) feel the same as last year.
Of the 79 percent of Floridians who are fully or partially vaccinated:
71 percent are confident the vaccine will protect them from contracting COVID-19 while traveling
70 percent are confident in the long-term effectiveness of the vaccine
QUARTERLY TRAVEL CONFIDENCE
Traveler confidence took a step back this quarter, following a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, brought on by the Delta variant. This year, the percentage of Floridians who are comfortable traveling rebounded from 47 percent in Q2 to 74 percent in Q3, yet slipped back to 63 percent in Q4.
Although traveler confidence hit a snag, enthusiasm could rebound through the end of the year. COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are trending lower again, which is what 45 percent of Floridians said would need to happen in order to feel more comfortable traveling.
TRAVELERS INCREASINGLY TURNING TO TRAVEL ADVISORS AND INSURANCE
“Whether you’re taking a flight, cruise or tour; travel insurance can provide the peace of mind in knowing that your trip is protected during the pandemic,” Haas said. “There are various policies that provide coverage if you contract COVID either before or during your trip. If you talk with a travel agent, they can help ensure you have the policy that is the best fit for your trip.”
Throughout the year, survey data has shown steady growth in the percentage of travelers who are more likely to purchase travel insurance because of the pandemic. Half of Floridians (50 percent) now say they are more likely to purchase travel insurance than before the pandemic began. That’s an increase from 39 percent in Q1.
Travel advisors are vital during the pandemic. More than a quarter (29 percent) of Floridians value travel agents more now than before the pandemic began. Since restrictions and requirements can vary by destination, travel advisors help travelers navigate the various complexities, so they can make informed decisions and travel with confidence.
The AAA Consumer Pulse Survey was conducted online among residents living in Florida from September 15-22, 2021. A total of 400 residents completed the survey. Survey results asked of all respondents have a maximum margin of error of ± 4.9 percent. Responses are weighted by age and gender to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in Florida.
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second-largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 62 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety.
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