Travellers booking decisions will be made by factors including flexibility and cleanliness, new data shows.

Australians are more than ready to get out and travel again once COVID-19 restrictions ease, with new research from Expedia showing a huge spike in online searches for Australian cities far ahead of once-popular foreign tourist hotspots.

Expedia’s 2021 ‘Traveller Value Index’ surveyed 8,000 adults in eight markets to compile its results, including Australia and other major countries in Asia, Europe and North America using an online poll.

Searches for Melbourne and Sydney were up 90% and 85% respectively, according to the results, while Las Vegas and Paris saw increases of 40% and 30% respectively. Once all domestic and international borders reopen, Expedia believes travel will experience the strongest rebound with more than a third of those polled saying they had larger budgets for their next trip. Nearly one in five said they expected travel to be their biggest expense in 2021, ahead of entertainment and car maintenance.

Sydney and Melbourne were two of the best performing cities in the online search study.

More than 70% said they were comfortable with the idea of a vaccine passport to prove to authorities they were vaccinated and as protected as they could be when embarking on their next trip.

Six in every ten respondents said they would still prefer domestic holidays in the short term, however nearly half said they would plan to get away more often on shorter but frequent breaks. That said, more than a quarter were undeterred by an international holiday, with 27% eager to resume holidays on foreign shores as soon as possible.

The research identified some interesting considerations that travellers say will impact their booking decisions, including the ability to get a full refund if plans change, atypical low pricing rather than short-term tactical promotions, the availability of contactless technology, environmentally-friendly policies and enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures.

Expedia Group President, Expedia for Business, Ariane Gorin

Expedia Group President, Expedia for Business, Ariane Gorin, said as vaccination rates rise and borders reopen, the data showed people were eager to travel once again.

“However, the months of uncertainty are weighing on their travel decisions and shifting the conventional belief that price is the top driver of bookings.

“These insights show people want to book with trusted travel providers that will deliver on their experiences, keep them safe, and protect their financial investments.”