Ebola is the number one infectious disease travellers worry about; one in four travellers have changed their holiday plans in the past year because of safety or health concerns; and islands big or small are perceived to be the safest places to vacation, according to a new study.
The findings*, undertaken by the The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council in the US, and insurance provider AIG Travel, are both predictable and surprising.
The report reveals that personal safety is a top priority for tourists, especially as real-time news channels and social media postings offer first-hand and immediate accounts of terrorist activities and other incidents. More than 60 per cent of travellers in the survey said that political upheaval, health hazards or conflict could change or put them off from visiting a particular region or country.
Almost half (43 per cent) of survey respondents say they have purchased a policy due to personal safety concerns an uncertainty, while a significant 80 per cent said they are likely to consider buying emergency medical cover for future travel. Meanwhile, 73 per cent expect to add trip cancellation insurance, 47 per cent are thinking about emergency evacuation policies, and 42 per cent would consider a policy with accidental death benefits.
Australia and New Zealand were top of the most desirable and safest places to travel – more than 62 per cent of tourists would like to visit these countries, where there is zero perceived safety concern. Islands in the Pacific and Western Europe also came out as the most attractive locations. The least popular destinations, with 10 per cent or less of travellers wishing to travel there, were North, Central or West Africa and the Middle East.
The top five reasons to avoid travel to certain destinations included:
· Terrorist activity 77%.
· Military conflict or fighting 59%.
· Outbreak of disease or health risks 46%.
· High incidence of crime 25%.
· Political upheaval 25%.
To make the decision to travel when safety and security are in the balance, government agencies and law enforcement alerts are relied upon my more than half (55 per cent) of the survey respondents. Other sources of trusted information were journalists (36 per cent); friends and family (34 per cent); third-party crowd-sourced travel rating sites (25 per cent) and social media (17 per cent).
*How Global Voices Shape Travel Choices: The Impact of Consumer Apprehension on Travel Intention. Data was collected from over 2,000 American, European and other global holidaymakers via an online survey in October 2015 by the CMO Council and global internet media company Travelzoo.