Fear of COVID-19 infection or quarantine as a primary concern among travelers plunged 37% while their confidence to travel has grown significantly since the pandemic was declared more than a year ago, according to the results of Global Rescue’s Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey. 78% of respondents are “much less” or “less” concerned about travel safety in 2021 compared to 2020, with 22% answering they are “more” or “much more” concerned.
“Travelers are twice as likely to plan international trips within the next six months as they were in September 2020,” said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, the leading travel risk, crisis management, and response company. “Nearly three-quarters of surveyed travelers have already taken a domestic trip or are planning to take one before July,” he added.
As traveler confidence grows, Richards is encouraging government health officials to develop capabilities to identify, detect and respond to COVID-19 and emerging pathogenic threats. “By leveraging improvements in technology, including tools that detect active infection of COVID-19 and emerging diseases on exhaled breath, we can effectively recover from, and prevent, disease spread while boosting and protecting the travel and hospitality industry,” said Richards, who also serves on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The overwhelming majority of respondents (91%) would submit to fast, on-site COVID-19 testing to check for coronavirus before travel, and 80% said they would pay for the test depending on cost.
Surveyed travelers are closely split in their support for (46%) or against (42%) using vaccine certifications for domestic travel. Approval shifts decisively regarding international trips with 70% of respondents favoring the use of vaccine certificates.
Travelers revealed strong preferences to control their vaccination and testing data rather than entrusting centralized organizations. 45% of respondents want their proof-of-vaccination and COVID-19 testing results to be maintained by the individual and presented as necessary. Another 16% do not want the data collected at all.
“Government officials must take a leadership role in recommending secure technology standards where users, rather than centralized organizations, store and control data used for vaccine, previous infection and testing verification for COVID-19 and future disease outbreaks,” Richards said.
The pandemic is leading travelers to modify their trip plans in several ways. A majority of travelers (54%) indicated they would avoid crowded destinations and places with insufficient medical facilities (22%) as the leading reasons preventing them from visiting an area.
According to Global Rescue respondents said the most important travel protection service today is medical evacuation from the point of illness or injury (49%) followed by Cancel For Any Reason trip insurance to protect against financial loss from last-minute trip cancellation or disruption (21%).