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Survey Offers New Insights into Travelers' Destination Choices

September 15, 2010 By: George Dooley

Americans rank safety and security as top concerns for international travel, according to results of a recently released survey conducted for the US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA). Even so, 70 percent of respondents say that safety and security issues would not deter them from traveling internationally. The study was conducted for UStiA July 20-22, 2010 by synovate, eNation.

When it comes to choice of destination, however, Americans are slightly more cautious, with 60 percent of those polled saying that safety and security concerns would influence their choice of an overseas destination.

The UStiA survey— which followed up on a similar 2009 poll— asked participants to rank their major travel concerns. This year’s findings revealed that some 67 percent of those polled were moderately to highly concerned over terrorism, followed closely by quality of law enforcement, which concerned nearly 65 percent of respondents.

Despite the Iceland volcanic eruption that closed airports across Europe last spring, Americans ranked natural disasters on a par with kidnapping (44 percent each). Both concerns scored lower when compared to other direct security or safety threats such as assaults/muggings (57 percent), theft (57 percent), security of public transportation (57 percent) or even automobile accidents (50 percent). Political demonstrations ranked lowest, with only one out of three viewing civil unrest as a major concern.

While year-to-year concerns over safety and security have remained fairly consistent, in general, Americans are less worried than in 2009 over health issues. Only 46 percent of Americans said that health concerns would influence their choice of international destination, in contrast to 2009, when 56 percent cited health issues as a determining factor in where they would travel. UStiA attributes the 10 percent drop in part to the diminished health threat posed by the H1N1 virus this year.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that older travelers are more concerned about safety, security, and health issues than are younger-aged travelers. More than three out of four travelers aged 54 and over ranked terrorism as number one concern, and 71 percent expressed concern over quality of law enforcement. And among Americans aged 65+, 60 percent said that health concerns influence their choice of destination.

Safety, security, and health issues may not be at the top of everyone’s travel agenda. However, UStiA advises that nothing can derail the best-planned vacation faster than an unforeseen accident, a natural disaster that leaves you stranded, or a lost passport when no U.S. embassy is nearby.

For helpful information on questions to ask when choosing travel insurance, visit And for important tips on safety, security, and health, visit UStiA’s new TRIP (Travel Responsibly, Informed, and Protected) website

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