Don’t want to travel? Many in Japan say they will “never travel again”.

Everyone travels, it seems.

Data shows people are traveling more often and for longer periods of time, with many planning big trips this year.

But this is not the reality for everyone.

Another group of people is quietly coming out of the pandemic with little or no interest in travel.

Where ‘never travelers’ are highest

A survey of 16,000 adults in 15 countries by global intelligence firm Morning Consult found that Asia has the highest percentage of people who said they would “never travel again”.

Some 15 percent of South Korean respondents and 14 percent of Chinese respondents said they would never travel again, according to Morning Consult’s “The State of Travel & Hospitality” report released in August.

North America is not far behind, with 14% of American respondents and 11% of Mexicans.

However, no country came close to the reluctance to travel shown in Japan, where 35% of respondents said they had no intention of traveling again.

The survey asked about “any leisure travel” and did not differentiate between domestic or international travel plans, said Lindsey Roeschke, travel and hospitality analyst at Morning Consult.

Respondents were polled twice this year: in April and July, he said. During that time, travel confidence increased among other Japanese respondents, including those who said they planned to travel in the next three months (+7 points) as well as the next 12 months (+4 points).

But in both surveys, “the number of ‘never travelers’ … stayed the same in Japan,” Roeschke said.

The number of people who say they will “never travel again” is almost six times higher in Japan (35%) than in Germany (6%), according to Morning Consult’s “The State of Travel & Hospitality” report.

Yuichi Yamazaki | Afp | Getty Images

Even with increased travel intentions, Japan’s rates remain far behind other countries, including those in North Asia, the report said.

Some 45 percent of Japanese respondents said they intend to travel in the next year, compared with 65 percent in China and 66 percent in South Korea, the survey showed.

Conversely, 77% of German respondents said they plan to travel in the next 12 months.

“I don’t want to go abroad”

You could say that the pandemic has reduced the number of Japanese people choosing to travel abroad, but I think the weaker yen has had a bigger impact.

Tetsuya Hanada

CEO of Tabimori Inc.

About 386,000 Japanese travelers went abroad in August, a far cry from the estimated 2.1 million who traveled abroad in August 2019, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

Hideki Furuya, a professor at Japan’s Toyo University who studies the behavior of tourists, said one reason is the culture’s “preference for risk aversion.”

He said peer pressure will also keep travelers close to home if the risk of contracting Covid-19 is high.

Taiwan’s largest tourism source markets are China and Japan, which prohibits a prolonged recovery of its tourism industry.

Daniel Ceng | Afp | Getty Images

Tetsuya Hanada, the CEO of food and travel company Tabimori Inc. he said he believes finances are an even bigger factor.

“You could say that the pandemic has reduced the number of Japanese people who decided to travel abroad, but I think the weaker yen has had a bigger impact,” he told CNBC Travel.

No place like home

We expect to see a return to pre-2020 international travel demand sooner rather than later.

Hideki Furuya

professor at the University of Toyo

After a rapid increase in international travel in the 1970s and 1980s, the number of Japanese citizens traveling abroad has largely stagnated since the mid-1990s, according to statistics from the Japan National Tourism Organization.

Roughly the same number of Japanese citizens traveled abroad in 2000 and 2017, about 18 million, although the time period was one of incredible growth for international travel worldwide.

“The language barrier and the lack of consecutive holidays are some of the reasons why domestic travel is preferred,” Furuya said, adding that “work environments that make it difficult to take paid holidays” are another factor.

Japan’s passport is often cited as one of the strongest in the world, but fewer than one in four Japanese citizens had one in 2019.

Behrouz Mehri | Afp | Getty Images

He also cited the appeal of Japan’s nature, history and culture as another incentive to stay close to home.

This will increase pressure on destinations popular with Japanese tourists, such as Taiwan, South Korea and Hawaii.

But Hanada said that over time, Japanese citizens will likely return to travel.

“The Japanese are easily swayed by the majority, a feeling that will change in five years,” he said.

Furuya said he hopes it won’t take that long.

“After seeing and hearing how active Westerners are, we expect to see a return to pre-2020 international travel demand sooner rather than later,” he said.

Others also stay at home

Beyond Japan, other travelers say they, too, have lost their travel luster.

The British artist known as Miles Takes told CNBC Travel that “international travel still seems far away” for him.

“In the past, I have enjoyed traveling and as recently as earlier this year I have traveled to Singapore and Poland from London,” he said. But “these two trips caused anxiety that has gotten much worse since then.”

A combination of things prevented him from traveling, he said, including Covid, travel disruptions and having a medically vulnerable partner.

Singaporean Daniel Chua says he is in no rush to travel for “a variety of reasons”.

But Covid is not one of them, he said.

“I’m not afraid of the virus,” said Singaporean Daniel Chua, shown here in Edinburgh, Scotland. He told CNBC Travel that he is less inclined to travel, in part, because of its impact on the environment.

A work trip to Europe in June exposed him to a “mess” of flight delays and staff shortages, he said. In addition, he said that virtual meetings are a more efficient use of work time.

Chua also cited sustainability as a disincentive to travel, calling it a “core belief in my work and personal life.”

But he acknowledged that he was surrounded by people who travel.

“I don’t tell them why I don’t travel, so as not to burst their bubble or, you know, to be the party pooper in the middle of all this celebration,” he said. “For me, it’s a personal decision.”

Chua said he believes there are more people who feel like him, but travel because of peer pressure or FOMO, or the “fear of missing out.”

They don’t affect him, though, he said.

“I’ve traveled a lot before,” he said. “There is no particular country in the world that I really need to visit right now.”

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