PHOTO: Volatile conditions in some countries are giving travelers pause. (photo via Flickr/Alan Levine)
A Virtuoso poll of its travel advisors has found that travelers are avoiding several international destinations in light of what the luxury travel network calls “VUCA”—“volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous” conditions in geopolitical situations.
“The world is going through a transition where uncertainty is the new norm,” said Matthew D. Upchurch, Virtuoso’s chairman and CEO.
Among the survey questions, Virtuoso asked its travel advisors globally about the impact of the Presidential Executive Order banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.
Although the order has been knocked down by U.S. courts, Virtuoso advisors reported that it’s still having an effect on their clients’ travel decisions.
Among U.S.-based advisors, 10 percent said clients are changing their travel plans due to concerns over anti-American sentiment. A much higher 40 percent said their clients are now avoiding certain destinations due to fears of terrorism.
The destinations clients steer clear of include the Middle East, Europe and Africa, with Turkey and Egypt topping the list of countries. Instead, Americans are opting to travel within the U.S. or visit countries—including Canada, Japan and New Zealand—they perceive as safer.
Meanwhile, 42 percent of Virtuoso-affiliated travel advisors outside of the U.S. said their clients are avoiding travel to the U.S. due to several factors including opposition to U.S. foreign policy and concerns over obtaining visas.
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As an alternative, they are traveling to destinations like Italy, Australia and the U.K. The majority of advisors anticipate the slowdown in travel to the U.S. will last three to six months.
“Whether it’s Brexit, the shifting political climate in the U.S., or the threat of terrorism or disease such as Zika, there seems to be only two certainties,” Upchurch said of the current climate. “First, we have no idea what we might wake up to find tomorrow because change happens fast. Two, and this is of utmost importance, travel is the best way to bring people together when isolation begins.
“At Virtuoso, we say borders divide, but travel unites,” he added. “Never has it been more important to keep the ability to travel as a fundamental right.”