Last updated: 03:00 PM ET, Mon October 19 2015

Survey: Terrorism Hasn’t Stopped Americans From Traveling

Features & Advice | Travel Leaders Group | Robin Amster | October 19, 2015

Survey: Terrorism Hasn’t Stopped Americans From Traveling

Concerns over continuing incidents of terrorism around the world aren’t stopping most consumers from traveling the world, according to a new survey by the Travel Leaders Group.

The survey of more than 1,000 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline agents is part of Travel Leaders’ 2015 Fall Travel Trends Survey. It’s the first time the group has asked terrorism-related questions in any of its ongoing surveys.

Leisure travel accounts for 50 percent or more of the survey respondents’ business. The survey findings relate to the impact of terrorism on leisure travelers’ decisions and bookings and “traveler confidence.” The “confidence gap” is defined as the difference between traveler confidence and its impact on actual bookings.

Among all destinations, the survey found the confidence gap most favorable for travel to Canada: a spread of only 3.5 percent between 99.6 percent of Travel Leaders’ agents who said they had no cancellations or delays for travel to Canada and 96.1 percent who said their clients are a little concerned or not concerned at all about travel to the country.

The U.S. too has a favorable confidence gap of 5.3 percent with 93.2 percent of respondents who said clients have little or no concern, and 98.5 percent who had no cancellations or delays. Other regions with favorable confidence gaps included New Zealand, Australia, the South Pacific and Northern Europe. Among regions with the least favorable confidence gaps were the Middle East, Asia (excluding India and Southeast Asia), Russia and Africa.

“Today’s news headlines and 24/7 media coverage provide so much information that often lead consumers to question whether or not they should travel,” said Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko, CTC. “Thus the findings on the confidence gap are gratifying, demonstrating that consumers ultimately employ rational thinking—along with counsel from their travel agent—when making key travel decisions.”

Chacko noted that, according to the survey, although some clients have concerns about even the most popular destinations, the vast majority of them follow through on their travel plans once the trips are booked.

The survey found that, overall, travel bookings remained strong. The leading regions where agents reported no cancellations or delays in bookings were Canada, 99.6 percent; New Zealand, 99 percent; Australia, 98.8 percent; the U.S., 98.5 percent; South Pacific, 97.5 percent; Northern Europe, 95.9 percent; South America, 94.5 percent; Central America, 94.1 percent; Southern Europe, 93.9 percent; Western Europe, 91.5 percent; Asia (excluding India and Southeast Asia), 91.1 percent, and Southeast Asia and India, both at 91 percent.

Americans understand that the world is a different place today than it was 15 years ago, said Kathy Gerhardt, a spokesperson for the Travel Leaders Group. “An overwhelming majority of Americans believe travel is a ‘right,’” said Gerhardt. “If they let every incident – domestic or international – impact their actions, Americans would never leave home. That’s not who we are as people or a nation.”

Gerhardt said in the event of a terrorist incident, Travel Leaders Group agents check to see if any of their clients are in an area that has been impacted and assess their safety and address any need for alternate plans. 

“Our travel agents also closely monitor the U.S. Department of State website for travel alerts and warnings for all destinations, including those that are most popular with our clients,” she said. “Should we become aware of an issue for a specific destination, we alert clients who may be planning to travel there and provide them with as much pertinent and factual information as possible, so they can determine for themselves if they still wish to travel. We also make certain to work with a select group of travel partners who take the safety and security of our clients as seriously as we do.”

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