THE CORONAVIRUS EMERGING out of China has had an effect on international travel, but it is only one of many safety concerns by travelers reveled in a survey by travel risk and crisis response provider Global Rescue. They include fears of cybercrime and travel in dangerous regions, with levels of concern differing according the age of the traveler.
At the same time, the survey also found that most respondents are not cancelling their trips.
Around 85 percent of people responding to the 2020 Annual Global Rescue Travel Safety Survey expressed concerns over travel safety. The survey, conducted between Jan. 22 and 28, found that over 95 percent are likely to travel in 2020, either domestically or internationally, while 35 percent are “concerned” or “very concerned” about their travel safety in 2020.
The Middle East is the region most troubling to travelers with 56 percent reporting they would be “very concerned” making a trip there. Trips to Asia and Africa were the next most worrisome for travelers.
A majority, 64 percent, found North America or Australia as the safest destinations without any concerns while 13 percent of respondents are “not concerned” at all about travel safety.
“I think the Middle East gets a bad rap,” said Matt Napiltonia, a Global Rescue Operations expert and former Navy SEAL. “There are places you just can’t go like Syria and Iraq. But Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Israel, the UAE, and other areas there are great. The Middle East is a good place.”
Compared to business travel, people find family and personal travel nearly three times more concerning.
“If I’m involved in an incident or accident on family travel, it will likely affect not only my safety but that of my family members,” a survey respondent said. “On a business trip, my family, of course, will be affected by my injury or death, but they likely will not be with me and will not be involved directly in the calamity.”
Men are about 50 percent more concerned about family travel than women.
The survey further finds older travelers less worried about health or medical issues than their younger counterparts with 40 percent of travelers under age 40 saying health/medical issues are the greatest threat while touring and exploring, compared to just 29 percent in the 40-60 years age group.
However, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus emerged as the biggest safety concern in the New Year and significantly affected the industry with Baird/STR Hotel Stock Index for January dropping to 7.7 percent to 4,863.