NEW YORK — A groundbreaking “Back-to-Normal” survey comparing travel and leisure attitudes in September 2001 and July 2009 to today finds a majority of Americans who took a cruise in the past year would go on a cruise right now — despite widespread health concerns from COVID-19. And the percentage who would engage in other travel-and-leisure activities right now if they could do so is growing dramatically.

“Looking at our tracking data, we seem to be reaching an inflection point among leisure customers, sports fans and travellers,” says Jon Last, president of Sports and Leisure Research Group, whose firm conducted the research along with Engagious and ROKK Solutions. “There are just as many people concerned about the macro-economic situation as there are those concerned about the public-health crisis.”

Of those Americans who have participated in these activities within the past 12 months:

• 58 per cent would take a cruise
• 48 per cent would attend a live sporting event
• 47 per cent would stay at a hotel
• 46 per cent would visit a casino
• 43 per cent would fly commercially
• 39 per cent would see a movie in a theatre

While those who would engage in an activity they did in the past year continues to grow, overall, there are still a large number of Americans who remain hesitant to travel long distances. The latest poll also compared the public’s willingness to engage in various travel-and-leisure activities now vis-à-vis the weeks after the 9/11 attacks and during the Great Recession. While engagement lags those prior two crises, the latest results show a consistency in consumer hesitancy compared to the previous polls.

“Our ability to compare today’s findings to the prior crises of 2001 and 2009 makes our 2020 research particularly compelling,” says Rich Thau, president and co-founder of Engagious. “Exactly half the country (50 per cent) strongly agreed in late September 2001 that ‘Taking a vacation 500+ miles is a priority for me and my family in the next 12 months,’ while only 35 per cent strongly agreed in our first poll held on April 1, 2020. While the number jumped five points to 40 per cent who strongly agreed April 22, 2020, it has now dipped two points to 38 per cent in our latest poll.”

“Our research takes an unprecedented review of consumer attitudes of the past compared to today’s environment, so a vast variety of industries can make strategic business decisions to navigate the difficult terrain ahead to get back to normal,” says Ron Bonjean, partner at ROKK Solutions.

The margin of error on the May 6, 2020 online survey is +/- 4.1 per cent. It was fielded May 5 to 6, 2020 and is comprised of a random sample of Americans who self-identify as participants in sports-and-leisure activities.


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