How Romanians’ vacation behavior changed during the pandemic?

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The pandemic has changed Romanians’ vacation habits, with 2020 being the year of less often holidays, spent with family and friends in isolated places in the country, according to a new study conducted by Starcom Romania. However, 6 out of 10 urban internet users did not give up their holidays even in the middle of a pandemic year, and 95% of them intend to go on holiday this year. The study “Impact of COVID-19 on vacation habits” is part of HumanGraphExperience, a series of monthly infographics made by Starcom Romania, based on quantitative studies.

“The year 2020 was not without holidays, but Romanians from urban areas tried to be more careful, to travel in smaller groups, with close people, mostly by personal car, in locations where they felt safe. Although the year 2021 is announced to be full of holidays with the easing of restrictions, preventive behavior is maintained, therefor people from urban areas take into account possible events and carefully choose their destinations. 2020 was also an opportunity to discover beautiful places in the country and opened an appetite for holidays spent in Romania”, explained Andreea Zanfir, Consumer Insights & Research Coordinator, Starcom Romania.

Last year’s vacations

One of the study’s findings is that 6 out of 10 Romanian Internet users from urban areas carried out their vacation plans in 2020, despite the pandemic context. For the rest, the last vacation was a year or two ago, before the pandemic started. The main reasons why they gave up their 2020 holiday were the restrictions imposed by the authorities (52%), the protection of their own and loved ones’ health (36%), but also from financial reasons – lack of resources (31%), financial instability (22%) or the desire to save money (11%).

In 2020, 1 out of 2 urban Romanians went on vacation less often than in other years.

How vacations changed

2020 was the year of family vacations: 8 out of 10 urban internet users preferred to travel with their family or loved ones to feel safe.

Among the observed behaviors is the fact that most Romanians from urban areas gave up their desired destinations due to movement restrictions (74%), traveled with their own car for safety reasons (76%), intentionally avoided certain high-risk countries ( 70%), organized shorter stays (55%) and preferred camping and open spaces trips (52%).

Compared to the pre-pandemic period, in 2020, Romanians from urban areas spent their holidays in less accessible locations, both geographically and financially (luxury locations, resorts, exotic locations, locations that are not exposed risk). Because they traveled less than in other years, they allowed themselves to enjoy a more expensive experience.

On the other hand, the desire to spend their vacation discovering new places and countries, interacting and connecting with other people decreased during the pandemic, due to health concerns. Similarly, interest in animated destinations decreased, while interest in home vacations increased.

Top destinations

During the pandemic, the interest in holidays spent in Romania increased. In the top favorite destinations is the seaside, followed by Brașov and Prahova, and on the third place are the mountain areas. In parallel, Romanians who continued to spend their vacations abroad opted for destinations such as Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.

Planning upcoming vacations

Most Romanians from urban areas say they miss going on vacation, whether they gave up on it last year or not. The feeling is more acute among women and young people aged between 18 and 24 years.

Thus, 95% of Romanians from urban areas intend to go on vacation this year. Over 90% want to spend their vacation in Romania, in destinations such as the seaside, mountain areas or Maramures, while Greece remains the most popular foreign destination.

As for the reasons why most Romanians from urban areas opt for vacations in the country this year, the concern for health and safety remains a priority, especially among adults over 55 years old (51%). Other reasons mentioned are low costs, especially in the 25-44 age group (38%), the non-obligation of a COVID test, a reason supported by those aged between 35 and 44 (38%) or the desire to support the local economy, more present among respondents over 55 years (38%).

The features of upcoming vacations

Among the Romanians from urban areas who intend to go on vacation in 2021, most plan to use their own car, similar to the pre-pandemic behavior. In contrast, compared to the pre-pandemic period, the number of people intending to travel by train and bus decreased (-4%), while the number of those who choose to travel by plane increased (+ 5%).

This year too, most Romanians from urban areas prefer to spend their vacations with their family and friends. However, as expected, holidays look different depending on the age segments: people over 45 prioritize relaxation and rest, want to visit sights, discover different cultures and try exotic food, while persons under 34 years of age intend to take photos to keep them as memories, to be active, to have fun and to make new friends.

Uncertainty continues to have an impact on holiday-related behavior: 53% of Romanian Internet users from urban areas are postponing vacation planning until the last minute, fearing the unexpected introduction of new restrictions, and 46% of them are afraid to travel to countries that have not taken measures against COVID-19.

However, Romanians from urban areas seem optimistic, 67% of them feeling more comfortable than last year to go on vacation.

The study was conducted by Starcom media agency, through online interviews, on a sample of 805 persons, female and male, over 18 years of age, internet users, from urban areas, between 17th and 25th of June.

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