As a tiny city-state located just hours away from some of the world’s most desirable holiday destinations, the spirit of wanderlust has long been a cornerstone of the Singaporean identity. But ever since COVID-19 brought international travel to a near standstill, vacations to idyllic destinations have been the subject of intense nostalgia among Singaporeans. It is perhaps with little surprise, then, that Singapore emerged as the most vacation deprived country in the world alongside Italy, in the latest edition of Expedia’s annual Vacation Deprivation® Study which surveyed 9,200 consumers in 16 markets globally, including 300 in Singapore.
SINGAPORE, ITALY EMERGE AS THE MOST VACATION-DEPRIVED COUNTRIES GLOBALLY
According to the study, vacation deprivation is on the rise in 10 out of the 16 markets surveyed across the globe. In particular,71% of the respondents in Singapore and Italy said they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ vacation deprived, making them the most vacation-deprived countries in the world, ahead of South Korea (70%), France (70%), and Malaysia (68%).
Compared to the year before when 67% of Singaporeans said that they were vacation deprived, this year’s findings indicate that Singaporeans could be reeling from the effects of not being able to travel, resulting in the country being ranked as the most vacation deprived country in the world for the first time.
Vacation Deprivation Sentiments Across The Globe
Of the Singaporeans surveyed, those aged 18-34 were found to be the most vacation deprived group, with 85% identifying with vacation deprivation. This was followed by those in the 35-49 age range (68%), and those aged above 50 (51%). Interestingly, respondents who reside in the east of Singapore also appear to be more vacation deprived (77%) than those residing in the west (69%).
“Singaporeans are some of the most avid travellers in the region, and when we consider the lack of options for inter-city travel within the country, it is of little surprise that they are the most vacation deprived people globally this year. But they have adapted well while embracing the nationalistic spirit of rediscovering Singapore while supporting local tourism through staycations and local activities,” said Lavinia Rajaram, APAC Head of Communications, Brand Expedia.
SINGAPOREANS TOOK LESS VACATION DAYS IN 2020, LONG FOR A RETURN TO TRAVEL MORE THAN OTHERS
According to the study, Singaporeans used five less vacation days in 2020 compared to the amount they would normally take in a typical year. Despite the average number of vacation days received remaining the same at 16 days annually in 2019 and 2020, Singaporeans only took an average of 10 vacation days in 2020, much lower than the 15 vacation days they would usually take in a year.
With the reduction in vacation days taken, Singaporeans also expressed a greater longing for the return to travel more than anyone else in the world. 90% of respondents in Singapore said that they now value vacations more than ever before, followed by 89% of South Koreans and 87% of Malaysians. In addition, 87% of Singaporeans believe that travel can help to create important memories and be one of the best things to come out of COVID-19.
Local employers have also been more accommodating of Singaporeans’ desire to travel. According to the study, 67% reported that their employees have been supportive of them taking vacation time, up from 60% in 2019 and 55% in 2018. As Singaporeans continue to look forward to the resumption of international travel in 2021, they are already planning to utilise 16 vacation days on average, six more than what they took in 2020.
SINGAPOREANS PREPARING TO SAVE BIG FOR THEIR NEXT TRIP
Having been deprived of international travel, Singaporeans are also getting ready to fulfil their pent-up travel desires by splurging on vacations once it becomes safe to do so. 62% intend to spend more on their bucket list vacation than originally planned, while 67% said their travel bucket list budget for 2021 has increased because of the pandemic.
However, as enthusiastic as they may be about the return to travel, Singaporeans rank among the most cautious travellers in the world. Only 18% of Singaporeans have booked travel for 2021 – lower than the global average of 21%.
When asked about their approach to booking travel in 2021, 44% of Singapore respondents said that future travel planning will highly depend on the success of the COVID-19 vaccine – coming in only behind the Canadians, with 45% of them planning to do the same. In addition, 39% of Singapore respondents said they are waiting until the latter half of 2021 to travel, coming in only behind Hong Kong where 41% plan to do so.
In contrast, consumers in France, Germany, Japan and Thailand are much less concerned about travelling without a vaccine, with less than a quarter of the respondents highlighting the need to wait for a vaccine before they book travel.
FLEXIBILITY TAKES PRECEDENCE FOR TRAVEL IN THE ‘NEW NORMAL’
There is no doubt that travel in the ‘new normal’ will require a significant mental and emotional shift. At the same time, travel booking behaviours have also evolved in response to the recent developments that have influenced their decision-making criteria.
Refundable travel options have become a pre-requisite for many travellers, with 33% of Singaporeans saying that they will only book travel that is fully refundable in case they don’t feel comfortable travelling. 21% of Singaporeans also said that they intend to book last-minute travel when they know that it is safe to do so, and 20% said they only plan to travel to places where they can remain socially distant from others.
Despite the cloudy climate, Singaporeans continue to show strong interest in travel. Searches for international destinations on Expedia.com.sg have increased in recent months, with Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo, Maldives, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Bali, London and Ho Chi Minh City making up the top destinations that Singaporeans are looking to travel to in 2021.
“As we work towards the resumption of international leisure travel, Expedia is committed to helping customers prepare for travel’s ‘new normal’, by providing the right information and support to restore confidence in travel. This includes offering ‘book now, travel later’ options, free cancellation for flights and hotel bookings, indicators of the cleanliness and hygiene measures in place at destinations, and prompt customer service through virtual agents to help people travel with peace of mind. Whether it’s inspiring memorable experiences within our backyard, or uncovering hidden gems in our little ready dot, when ready and able to travel again, sharing helpful travel tips or spotlighting flexible deals, Expedia will be here to help our travellers discover new destinations – smartly and confidently,” said Rajaram.