How Global Voices Shape Travel Choices

The Impact of Consumer Apprehension on Travel Intention

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A plethora of global incidents have made headlines this past year—including terrorist attacks, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, regional conflict, political upheaval, crime or civil unrest, airline tragedies and cruise line accidents and food safety issues—that have impacted travel plans, schedules and intentions. News coverage, social media postings and government warnings have often exacerbated or raised traveler concerns and worries, as well as influenced or helped change many travel plans and intentions around the world.

Research shows that safety and security is the most important consideration when choosing an international travel destination. According to a CNN study, this was listed as the number one factor influencing travel itineraries by 67 percent of 3,106 travelers surveyed in more than 70 countries worldwide. Indeed, it was more important than price, reputation, availability of information and things to do in shaping travel decisions and picking travel destinations.  

Given this scenario, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and its GeoBranding Center teamed with a select group of media partners and travel communities to understand the degree to which safety, security and health concerns are influencing travel planning, mode of travel and destination selection. Key areas of exploration included:

  • To what degree have travel anxieties or apprehensions altered travel plans or intentions
  • What are the top reasons causing travelers to avoid certain destinations
  • What news or events contribute the most to travel avoidance and distress
  • Which parts of the world have the highest level of health, safety and security concerns
  • What infectious diseases or illnesses most worry travelers
  • What are the most trusted and reliable sources of information on safe travel
  • What level of interest is there in travel insurance and what types of coverage are most valued
  • Which travel destinations are considered the safest and which are considered the most risky
  • What factors are discouraging travel to certain emerging and lesser known destinations like Africa


Facts & Stats

Tourism plummeted in Egypt in 2011 following the Arab Spring, with visitation dropping more than 33 percent. Tourism has rebounded over the past few years, though, with several river cruise companies putting Nile River itineraries back on their schedules. - Independent Traveler

Tourists are starting to worry about Greece's economic crisis—a sign that the country's tourism industry, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of GDP, could experience a slowdown if the financial situation worsens. -

With an expected 25 million visitors this year set to contribute up to a quarter of Greece's income in 2015, the country wants to reassure them that their vacations are safe. - CNN

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, last year tourism contributed 11 percent to Kenya’s GDP and over 9 percent to South Africa’s. Because the slipping oil and mineral prices have pulled down prospects for Africa’s major export revenue earners, the slackening in tourism numbers could unleash a deadly blow to economic growth in these countries. - Diaspora Community

ome 56 million tourists visited Africa in 2014, a 2% rise from the previous year, according to UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)  figures, but growth in Africa lagged behind that in Europe, Asia or the Americas. - BizNews

Almost 24,000 people have been infected with the Ebola virus since December 2013, almost all in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, and 9,807 of them have died, according to the WHO. The countries at the centre of the Ebola epidemic are forecast to lose 12 percent of their combined gross domestic product this year, according to World Bank estimates. - BizNews

From 2008 to 2014, North America showed a stunning 600-percent increase in cases of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, whooping cough and mumps, while the rest of the world saw a 57-percent decrease. - Forbes

In an annual annual survey that asks respondents to identify the region posing the greatest risk to travelers and expatriates, found that the Middle East/North Africa is the most troubling region, with 46 percent of respondents listing it as their top concern. It was followed closely by Latin America at 25 percent and Sub-Saharan Africa at 15 percent. Rounding out the concern was Asia at 10 percent and Europe at 4 percent. - Forbes

In a survey that asked respondents to identify security issues that would impact their travel, 19 percent cited civil unrest, and 20 percent cited terrorism as the top security concern for travellers. In order, the remaining risks included opportunistic crime (15 percent), kidnap and ransom (12 percent), petty theft (11 percent), natural disasters (10 percent) and road accidents (11 percent). - Forbes


Studies & White Papers

November 2015 - 2015 Global Terrorism Report - Vision of Humanity

2014 - The Effects of Terrorism on the Travel and Tourism Industry - International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimmage

Travel Guard - Overview of Ebola for Travelers

Travel Guard - Epidemic vs. Pandemic White Paper

Travel Guard - Travel Health Tips


November 2015 - Africa's Private Sector Needs to Drive Response to Tourism Decline Over Destination Safety Fears - GeoBranding Center

November 2015 - Tunisia Declares State of Emergency After Bus Explosion Kills 12 - The Globe and Mail

November 2015 - Apparent Suicide Attack on Tunisian Presidential Guard Bus Kills 12 - Reuters

November 2015 - U.S. Issues Worldwide Travel Alert Over Terror Threats - BBC News

October 2015 - Overview of Recent Global Plane Accidents -

August 2015 - Where Not to Go in the Middle East - Independent Traveler

August 2015 - Five Reasons Why Chinese Outbound Tourism Will Continue To Grow Even In Times Of Crisis - Forbes

July 2015 - Greek crisis intensifies: Tourists begin to worry -

June 2015 - How Terrorism Attacks Affect Tourism - BBC News

June 2015 - Tunisia tourism industry faces tough period as thousands leave after attack - The Guardian

June 2015 - Is it time to cancel your Greek vacation? - CNN

May 2015 - Ebola, terror attacks and xenophobia batter Africa’s tourism industry - Diaspora Community

May 2015 - Narcoviolence In Jalisco, Home To Largest Group Of Americans In Mexico, A "Serious Concern" - Forbes

March 2015 - Ebola–African tourism travels the road back from the virus stigma - BizNews

February 2015 - Concerns Over Safety of Air Travel in Asia - New York Times

February 2015 - Anti-Vaxxers Are Spreading Concern - Forbes

January 2015 - The terrorist attacks, a problem for the tourism industry in France? - TourMag

January 2015 - Survey Highlights New Concerns For International Travelers - Forbes

July 2014 - Travelers reassess plans amid Mideast conflict - CNN


Program Themes

  • Customer Behavior