Despite Fear of Terrorism, Traveler Sentiment Reaches All-Time High

by Cheryl Rosen

It will take more than a little Zika virus or terrorism to stop people from traveling, apparently. A brand new MMGY study shows U.S. travelers’ interest in travel is at an all-time high. 

The latest travelhorizons survey of 2,300 active travelers conducted by marketing services firm MMGY Global shows that the overall Traveler Sentiment Index (TSI), which measures U.S. adults’ interest in travel, time for travel, personal finances available for travel, affordability of travel, quality of service, and safety of travel, now stands at 120, the highest level recorded since its inception in 2007.  

That’s not to say they are not mindful of the risks that always come with stepping outside your comfort zone.  The perceived safety of travel (97) rated the lowest score, down two points from one year ago. The five other factors that determine the TSI increased between two and six points each. 

Overall, slightly fewer respondents said they plan to take a trip in the next six months, but those who do expect to spend more; 63% plan to take at least one overnight leisure trip, down slightly from the 68% percent in October 2015, but 30% expect to spend more, while just 14% expect to spend less. 

Fear of flying
Four in ten active leisure travelers (42%) agreed that what they see in the news affects their interest in traveling, and 53% said the news affects their choice of destination.

Perhaps not surprisingly, more than half (52%) said they don’t feel safe traveling to international destinations, and 26% said they changed some aspect of their travel plans because of the recent terror attacks in Europe and the Middle East. Ten percent switched to a destination they considered safer, and 9% postponed a planned trip, purchased travel insurance, or canceled a trip entirely. 

Only half as many respondents reported being afraid to travel domestically (23%) as a result of domestic terrorist attacks in San Bernardino. The same 9% postponed a trip, switched to a destination they considered safer or purchased travel insurance—but just 7% cancelled a trip entirely because of what occurred in San Bernardino.

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