Global Anxiety Study Shows How Travelers Think

Even before the Paris attacks, travelers felt safest when vacationing on islands, or in Australia or New Zealand, according to a new study by Chief Marketing Officer Council’s GeoBranding Center and AIG Travel.

The report, titled “How Global Voices Shape Travel Choices: The Impact of Consumer Apprehension on Travel Intention,” polled more than 2,000 travelers from across the globe during the month of October.

The good news is “we didn’t get the sense that people wanted to stop traveling and become homebodies,” said Liz Miller, senior vice president of marketing at CMO Council.

The report revealed, not surprisingly, that terrorism activity is the number-one reason tourists avoid certain destinations. One in four travelers has changed vacation plans in the past year due to global or local safety, security, or health concerns.

Respondents said they would also avoid travel because of military conflict, outbreak of disease, health risk, crime, or political upheaval.

“Unfortunately, because of big headlines about everything from Ebola to military coups, the list of places people are willing to go is shrinking,” Miller said. “It spikes anxieties, but it doesn’t always ring true.”

Of course, the data comes at a timely moment, just before the terror attack in Paris ignited fears in tourists and potential travelers. 

While the survey closed before the attacks, Miller said on social media that she sees a common attitude of defiance.

While travel to Paris is expected to recover, the same isn’t guaranteed for places like Egypt, which has also recently seen a terror attack — the downing of a Russian commercial airplane. Only 10% of respondents said they want to visit the Middle East or Africa, affecting destinations like Israel, Turkey, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia.

When it comes to what people deem as safe, they think of island destinations. “The image is blue crystal water and palm trees; people don’t picture palm trees knocked over because of a tsunami. It’s an idealistic view.”

More than 62% of travelers said they would like to visit Australia and New Zealand; both have an impressive zero rate of travel concern anxiety.

Ultimately, Miller said, people still have that wanderlust desire, but the sense of anxiety is keeping them closer to home, and many are opting to travel domestically.

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