Tourism

Terrorism stirs up global travel angst

Anne Majumdar

Terrorism was the main safety concern that prompted travellers to change their plans in the last year, although Australia and New Zealand are considered the world’s safest destinations.

According to a new report by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council’s GeoBranding Center and AIG Travel, one in four travellers changed their plans in the last year as a result of concerns over safety.

Of those, 83% said that potential terrorist activity was their primary reason to avoid travel to certain destinations while 49% were wary of military conflict or fighting. Political upheaval was the main concern for 33% of those who cancelled plans while the outbreak of disease was top of mind for 31%.

Health concerns still weighed on the minds of half of those that hadn’t altered their plans, with Ebola the most feared infectious disease for 67% of travellers. However, insect-borne diseases, like Malaria and Dengue fever, which claimed 1 million lives in 2014, combined to account for 89% of traveller health concerns.

Australia and New Zealand came top of the list of the most “desirable and safe” destinations, with islands in the Pacific and Western Europe also faring well. More than 62% of travelers would like to visit ANZ. This compares to 10% or less who want to visit North, Central or West Africa and the Middle East.

The survey also revealed that, with travel anxiety on the rise, more travellers are seeing value in travel insurance. Almost half of all participants said they had purchased travel insurance due to safety concerns and uncertainty, with 80% likely to consider buying emergency medical coverage for future travel.

“In line with the findings from this study, we’ve received many questions recently about the role of travel insurance amid the perception of increased risk to personal safety while traveling,” AIG Travel chief executive Jeff Rutledge said.

“In truth, travel insurance is as crucial today as it was last month or last year. The risk of unforeseen events has always been a travel reality, and insurance helps travellers prepare for this risk, providing assurance that assistance will be available if their trip doesn’t go according to plan.”

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