New Zealanders are more than ready to take flight

27 May 2022 by Alaina McGregor

Key research findings include:

  • 95 per cent of New Zealanders are looking to travel domestically or internationally over the next two years
  • The most popular reason for heading away is a complete break from the ‘every day’ at 70 per cent
  • The results show 74 per cent will be more concerned about health and safety than they were prior to the pandemic
  • 88 per cent of travellers will take a destination’s Covid-19 response into account when planning
  • When considering accommodation, 59 per cent of respondents want the certainty of free cancellation or a full refund
  • 85 per cent of all New Zealanders believe insurance is a high priority for international travel, with 20 per cent of domestic travellers saying insurance for domestic travel was not important to them before Covid-19 but is a high priority now.

The wait is over. We’re off and away.

Travel agents and airlines are reporting a ‘feeding frenzy’ of enquiries as New Zealanders plan to take flight and re-join the world after a couple of the strangest years in recent memory. But what are the considerations as the borders are flung open and our wanderlust is reignited?

Southern Cross Travel Insurance commissioned YouGov to research travellers’ motivations and concerns. The results are interesting and, in some cases, a little surprising.

Jo McCauley, CEO Southern Cross said, “We wanted to understand how to support the 95 per cent of New Zealanders who are looking to get out and explore Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas again in the next couple of years. Covid-19 has impacted pretty much every aspect of travel, and as an insurer we need to be aware of Kiwis’ appetite for risk regardless of whether they’re headed to Rotorua or Rarotonga.”


Main benefits of travel

While ensuring family bonds are strengthened is a priority for many, McCauley said it’s also interesting to see New Zealanders have not lost their desire to have an adventure (57 per cent), especially among younger travellers.

Nearly half of all respondents (47 per cent) also said they were looking for a way to reward themselves after what has been a hard two years.

“Whatever the reason for travel, it’s exciting to see Kiwis making plans to head away. Yes, we’ve had our desire to travel curtailed by factors beyond our control but there’s still an innate Kiwi desire to get out and explore. That said, our research shows travellers of all ages and stages are now much more concerned around health and safety matters than before the pandemic.”


New considerations for travellers

Forty-five per cent of all people who plan to travel in the next two years say an important consideration when choosing accommodation is evidence of safe Covid-19 practices.

It’s not just older travellers who’ve proven more vulnerable to the impact of Covid, and who may be cautious. Forty-three per cent of Gen Z who plan to travel in the next two years say an accommodation provider’s approach to Covid would impact their choice. The message to practice good hygiene and mask-wearing now seems to be the accepted norm, and compliance is expected from accommodation providers.

While, prior to Covid, staying in a hostel was just part of the experience for many, the number of travellers considering this in the next two years has nearly halved from 20 per cent pre Covid-19 to 11 per cent in the next two years. This suggests bunking in with strangers has less appeal, even for the most adventurous.

It’s important to note too, the destinations New Zealanders are considering will likely be on the itinerary only if they’ve had a good track record of dealing well with Covid.

McCauley said, “Eighty-eight per cent of our survey respondents said the way a country or location has managed the pandemic will impact their decision on where to head next or which places to avoid.

Another key theme is travellers looking for operators who offer a flexible cancellation policy, due no doubt to people having had to make repeated changes thanks to Covid. The data shows 59 per cent of respondents will only book activities that have a favourable cancellation policy with a full refund.

McCauley said, “Since January 2022, cancellation due to being diagnosed with Covid-19 has accounted for 22 per cent of total claims across TravelCare and Domestic New Zealand policies. It’s therefore easy to see why flexibility is perceived to be so important amongst travellers and shows just why it’s best to be covered to protect your much needed holiday.”


The role of travel insurance

One of the most telling statistics from the Southern Cross YouGov research is that 85 per cent of all who plan to travel in the next two years consider travel insurance a must-have before heading off on holiday internationally. Prior to the pandemic, 78 per cent considered it a priority.

When it comes to domestic travel, 51 per cent of those surveyed think travel insurance to cover the unexpected as they head out around New Zealand is a high priority (up from 37 per cent who said it was a high priority for domestic travel pre Covid-19).

That said, 15 per cent of the Gen Z segment surveyed said international travel insurance was a high priority before Covid-19 but is less important now, and 11 per cent of Gen Z claimed it was not important before Covid-19 and remains not important to them now.

McCauley said, “We’re excited to see younger travellers getting ready to go, but we’d advise them and all others to consider insurance before they head off. Even when there’s not a global pandemic, travel insurance provides cover for expensive overseas medical costs and other benefits like lost luggage, missed flights and rental vehicle excesses.”


Tips for travellers

Carefully read the terms and conditions of your travel insurance cover: It’s never been more important to understand exactly what’s covered in your travel insurance policy.

Southern Cross has made this process simpler for travellers by writing policies in ‘plain English’, however it’s still advised to contact your travel insurer directly if you don’t understand any part of a policy document. This is especially important if there are any pre-existing medical conditions you may want cover for. See here for details.

Be clear about the level of Covid-19 cover available to you: While New Zealand is relaxing its borders, the pandemic is still ongoing, and other parts of the world may yet turn to government- mandated lockdowns.

Due to the ongoing unpredictable travel environment, travellers should be aware that Covid-19 cover does not apply to all circumstances. Southern Cross strongly recommends travellers taking out a policy understand what is covered and not covered in terms of Covid. Southern Cross coverage for Covid is offered only to those who have been fully vaccinated. Any children who are not eligible to be vaccinated due to their age are covered.

Check the travel advisory status of your destination: When planning a trip, it’s important to check the travel advisory in place for the country you’re travelling to. (These can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT) SafeTravel website.)

Some insurers, including Southern Cross, have extended their policies to include a level of Covid-19 cover, however this generally only applies to customers travelling to destinations with an MFAT travel advisory of ‘exercise normal safety and security precautions’ (Level 1) or ‘exercise increased caution’ (Level 2). If a destination does not have a travel advisory on SafeTravel, cover will apply.

*The Southern Cross YouGov research interviewed 1,014 New Zealanders 18+ between April 6 – 11, 2022. Respondents were split evenly across all key income groups and locations throughout New Zealand. The survey was carried out online.