After more than a year of Americans shelving travel plans amid the pandemic, the 2021 forecast for summer vacation spending is set to break records. Allianz Partners’ 13th annual "Vacation Confidence Index" estimates Americans’ total spend will likely cross the $150 billion mark for the first time in the index’s decade-long history, amounting to $153.7 billion. This represents a 160 percent increase over the summer vacation spend in locked-down 2020 and an impressive 50 percent increase over a robust 2019. 

This year, Americans are planning to spend more on their summer vacations than ever before, with an anticipated average of $2,122 spend per vacationing household, the second time the figure has topped $2,000 since the travel insurance and assistance company began tracking vacation habits in 2010. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, Allianz found that vacationing Americans planned to spend $2,037 on summer vacation, which dropped more than 7 percent in 2020 to $1,888 during an unprecedented summer season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 12.4 percent increase in average travel spend from 2020 to 2021 is the highest year-over-year increase since the start of the survey in 2010. In total, travel spend was just $59.3 billion in 2020.

Not surprisingly, with COVID-19 vaccinations now underway, restrictions lessening and mounting pent-up demand, Americans’ confidence in taking a summer vacation is at an all-time high this year: 60 percent of Americans say they are confident they will take a vacation (up from 42 percent in 2019 and 26 percent in 2020), which is defined as a leisure trip of at least a week to a place that is 100 miles or more from home.  

Leading the trend: Younger Americans feel hopeful they’ll take a vacation, with 73 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 citing confidence, versus 51 percent of those in the 55-plus population (and 60 percent for those aged 35 to 54), who may be taking a more cautious approach emerging from the pandemic. Higher income-earning households (75 percent who make $100,000-plus a year) are also feeling confident, and the survey found men (67 percent), who have proven more comfortable around COVID-19, are more likely than women (55 percent) to be confident. (Pre-pandemic in 2019, men were only five points more likely to take a summer vacation than women.) 

For Americans who aren’t confident they’ll take a summer vacation (29 percent, compared to 8 percent who said they’ll travel at some other time, and 2 percent who already took a summer vacation at the time of the survey), 38 percent said they didn’t want to spend the money and 44 percent noted it was due to other reasons, likely COVID-driven and amid increased concerns about health and safety. Other reasons for low or no confidence in a vacation are that it’s too stressful or time-consuming to plan (12 percent), not wanting to take off from work (11 percent) and not wanting to take time off due to a personal obligation that’s not work-related (8 percent).  

The "Vacation Confidence Index" has been conducted each summer since 2010 by national polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Allianz Partners USA. For this survey, a sample of 2,009 Americans aged 18 and over was interviewed from May 24 to 28, 2021 via the Ipsos Online Omnibus.

Source: Allianz Travel

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