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Shorter, More Frequent Trips Gain Popularity Among International Travelers, and Traveling with Cash Can Cause Anxiety, According to Visa Study

February 8, 2018 Business News No Comments Email Email

Visa today announced the findings of the payment network’s comprehensive look at travel and tourism in 2017. Visa’s Global Travel Intentions (GTI) Study highlights various parts of the travelers’ journey and found a key motivator for travel is stress relief. The Study also uncovered certain aspects of travel can lead to anxiety and stress, including getting, carrying and exchanging cash. Visa’s cashless solutions offer the freedom to pay anywhere in the world while helping you get a competitive exchange rate when you pay in local currency. While paying in one’s home currency may seem familiar, those purchases, when made overseas, can usually assess conversion-related commissions and overall price mark ups.

2018 Macro Trends in Travel

In addition to examining the motivations and planning tactics, the GTI Study of outbound travelers from 27 countries and territories also uncovered a number of macro trends expected to continue into 2018:

  • Trips are getting shorter: The global average is now eight nights, down from 10 nights on average in 2013.
  • More trips abroad: Globally, people are planning to take more trips in the future, from an average of 2.5 trips in the past two years to 2.7 trips in the next two years. The Americas lead the pack in number of trips in the past two years, taking an average of 3.2 trips in 2017.
  • Technology is helping some travelers better navigate their destinations: 88 percent of travelers gained online access while abroad. Almost half (44 percent) use ride-sharing apps to get around once they are on the ground.
  • Multi-destination: 11 percent of global travel includes visits to multiple countries.
  • Japan, the United States and Australia are the most visited countries: Japan has overtaken the United States as the most popular destination for global travelers in the past two years. Regional preferences prevail, though, with travelers in the Asia Pacific region leaning heavily toward Japan as a travel destination. American travelers prefer continental Europe, though Mexico, Canada and Japan are also highly desirable.
  • Top spenders: Saudi Arabians are the top spenders when it comes to what travelers spend on their entire trips, including the booking stage as well as expenditures at the destination, with Chinese, Australians, Americans and Kuwaitis rounding out the top five.

Simplifying Payment Abroad

Travelers are increasingly using technology to plan their trips and navigate their destinations – 83 percent of travelers used technology for this purpose in 2017 compared to 78 percent in 2015. Yet the majority of them are still decidedly analog when it comes to making payments internationally.

While many travelers use cards while on vacation, most (77 percent) still prefer to use cash when making purchases. Using a Visa card to pay in local currency could help international travelers get a more competitive exchange rate and possibly help them avoid being hit with hidden currency conversion fees when they get home. The Study also found the following themes related to the use of cash while traveling internationally:

  • Cash causes anxiety: Travelers cited loss of cash or theft as a top money concern while on trips.
  • Big Spenders: The average global traveler spends US$1,793 per trip, yet the global median amount of cash brought to destination globally clocks in at a whopping US$7781.
  • Trade-off: In order to travel with that much cash, 72 percent of people prepared their foreign currency prior to their departure date.
  • Telling sign: Only slightly more than one in ten people made an ATM withdrawal at their destination. Security at ATMs is one area of concern affecting this statistic, cited by nearly one in five travelers as a barrier to using an ATM. Travelers from Europe, the Middle East and Africa are, however, more likely to withdraw cash during vacation compared to those from other regions.
  • Leftover cash: A whopping 87 percent have leftover cash after their trips, but only 29 percent convert it back to currency they can actually use at home. The global median leftover amount is US$123.

“We are excited to see the desire for global travel grow as technology becomes integral in every stage of the travelers’ journey,” said Lynne Biggar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Visa. “Using your Visa card abroad means a safe, secure, seamless and convenient experience, without the worry of carrying cash. As more people travel internationally in 2018, we look forward to helping travelers make the most of their trips.”

Tips for Stress-Free Payment While Traveling

  • Use your Visa card to pay in “local currency” to get a competitive exchange rate and help avoid getting stuck with hidden currency conversion fees when you get home.
  • Use a credit or debit card for purchases. Visa offers security, convenience and ease when paying abroad. It may be considered safer than carrying cash, and is backed by Visa’s Zero Liability Policy2, which states accountholders won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges on their account.
  • Whenever possible, pay through a chip-activated terminal when using your credit or debit card for enhanced security.
  • Look for the Visa or PLUS logo at any point-of-sale terminal or ATM to ensure these international payment cards are accepted.

More GTI Findings

The average global traveler spends US$1,793 per trip. Travelers expect to spend more in upcoming trips, with the highest likely increase in the Asia Pacific.

Intended spend for next leisure travel versus previous trip (Median US$)*

Region Last trip Next trip Percent change
Global US$1,793 US$2,443 36.25% Increase
Africa & Middle East US$2,666 US$2,666 0% Increase
Asia Pacific US$1,677 US$2,443 45.68% Increase
Europe US$1,174 US$1,409 20.02% Increase
North and South Americas US$2,248 US$2,840 26.34% Increase

Among the top global spenders, travellers from Australia, China, Kuwait and the United States remain optimistic when it comes to spending for their upcoming overseas travel. Saudi Arabian respondents are still the number one spenders, but are projected to spend less on their next international trips.

Top five global markets – intended spending amount for next international trip (Median US$)**

Saudi Arabia China Australia United States Kuwait
Next trip US$4,800 US$4,034 US$3,529 US$3,500 US$3,474

Top five global markets – amount spent on last international trip (median US$)*

Saudi Arabia Kuwait China Australia UAE
Last trip US$5,333 US$3,143 US$2,988 US$2,745 US$2,722

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