September 02, 2022

The Tectonic Shifts in Travel Attitudes and Behaviors

Dan Richards is the CEO of Global Rescue, the leading travel risk and crisis response provider, and a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The 2022 Summer Traveler Safety and Sentiment Survey, conducted between July 12 and 16, 2022, reflects behaviors, attitudes and preferences regarding international and domestic travel from more than 2,100 travelers.

The return to the travel world has been a roller coaster. There are the ups of more countries welcoming visitors, fewer COVID protocols, and fewer hospitalizations—and the downs of the BA.5 variant, airline disruptions and the rising cost of travel. But the Global Rescue Traveler Safety and Sentiment Survey of the world’s most experienced travelers reveals a tectonic shift in behavior and attitude for the remainder of this year and 2023: Travelers are moving ahead and forging plans to overcome travel barriers.

Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents have already traveled internationally since the pandemic. The balance of trip takers expects to travel abroad by the end of the year (16 percent) or in the first three months of 2023 (9 percent). The percentage of people who have traveled abroad highlights a 33 percent increase compared to traveler responses half a year ago.

The biggest international travel fear is testing positive for COVID and being stranded away from home. The good news is that this fear is declining. A third of respondents (33 percent) listed COVID as the most concerning but it represents a 37 percent decrease from early 2022.

But travel fears aren’t leading to travel cancelations. Despite reports of the latest COVID-19 variant, BA.5, generating waves of reinfections and single-digit increases in U.S. hospitalizations, nearly 80 percent of respondents say the threat of a new COVID variant is unlikely to make them cancel or postpone international travel this year.

Inflation is having a minimal impact on travel: 79 percent of respondents report inflation won’t cause them to cancel their travel plans. More than one-fifth (21 percent) plan to spend more time and money on trips to make up for curtailed travel due to the pandemic.

Staff shortages among pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and ground crews—a new challenge disrupting travel—are affecting travel schedules, but the majority of survey respondents (58 percent) have not been touched by it.

There’s good news for cruises, an industry shut down by the pandemic. Forty percent of respondents have already taken a cruise since the pandemic started or, if they haven’t, they plan to this year. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of respondents feel much safer or safe enough to cruise compared to only 19 percent of respondents earlier this year.

The Russia-Ukraine war is having some impact on traveler decisions. The majority of travelers (60 percent) report some level of concern about international travel since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war. While 90 percent have not changed their travel plans due to the war more than a third are buying security evacuation protection as an additional precaution. But for trips to Eastern Europe, the opposite is happening. More than half of travelers (58 percent) who planned or were planning a trip to Russia, Ukraine or any other country in Eastern Europe report the Russia-Ukraine conflict caused them to cancel or postpone travel to those areas.

Travelers are sending a clear message. By overwhelming margins, they are pressing forward with international and domestic travel despite rising costs and airline staff shortages. The majority of travelers (64 percent) say medical evacuation services are more important than Cancel For Any Reason (18 percent) insurance or traditional travel insurance (15 percent).

They are eager to return to family vacations, adventure travels and business trips. Whether it is revenge travel or responsible travel following vaccination or because travelers learned travel protection for emergency medical services and evacuation is obligatory—or a combination of all three—travelers feel safe enough to plan trips and vacations and they have confidence they'll be able to get home if the worst happens.

Copyright 2022 Northstar Travel Media, LLC. All rights reserved. From By Dan Richards.

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