Many travelers are planning to return to destinations impacted by recent natural disasters this winter, and many will help recovery efforts while there, according to a new survey by independent marketing communications agency Eric Mower + Associates.
The survey polled 754 U.S. adults on recent natural disasters including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the California wildfires. A few highlights:
- One-third of respondents vacation annually in a destination that suffered damage in a recent natural disaster, primarily Florida. Of those, 12 percent usually travel to the same hotel or resort every year. Another 21 percent return to the same destination but like to stay at different hotels or resorts. In an open-ended question, the vast majority cited Florida as their winter vacation destination of choice (35 percent), followed by California (9 percent), the Caribbean (7 percent) and Texas (6 percent). All four were hit by major natural disasters this year.
- Two-thirds of those plan to return this winter. Sixty-five percent of U.S. travelers who take an annual winter vacation to an impacted destination will not be swayed from their trip this year.
- What is more, they plan to pitch in with recovery efforts. Forty percent of those who are returning to their annual vacation spots report they will bring extra food, clothing or medical supplies to donate toward relief efforts. Another 23 percent will donate money to the region to help them rebuild, and 21 percent plan to roll up their sleeves and volunteer while they are there.
- Florida vacationers are particularly loyal. As many as 64 percent of those who routinely visit Florida have plans to travel there this winter.
- Rebuilding outlook: optimistic, at least in the U.S. The majority of respondents expect that impacted destinations will come back better than ever (32 percent) or rebuild to the level they were before (32 percent). Of the remainder, 22 percent believe success of rebuilding efforts will vary by destination. They anticipate U.S. regions will recover more fully, with 65 percent projecting a bright outlook for Florida, followed by Texas (58 percent) and California (52 percent). Outside the mainland U.S., confidence dips to 19 percent for Mexico, followed by the U.S. Virgin Islands at 18 percent, Puerto Rico at 17 percent, and the Dominican Republic at 14 percent.
- Still, uncertainty remains. Twenty-nine percent of respondents are unsure they’ll return to their favorite spots this year. Five percent will skip the trip this year and say it will be a while before they go back. One percent do not foresee ever returning. Of those who expressed reservations or responded negatively, top reasons include concerns about infrastructure (30 percent), the current attractiveness of the destination (25 percent), and that their favorite restaurants, stores and amusements will not be open (20 percent). Thirty-two percent plan to visit somewhere that has not been impacted, while the rest either are not sure or plan not to travel at all.
- Those who will travel anticipate some changes. The majority of respondents who plan to visit an impacted area expect to experience fewer crowds (35 percent), see visible damage (28 percent), and have limited access to their favorite restaurants and shops (20 percent). Twenty percent don’t expect to experience any differences this year.
- Travelers are more inclined to insure their trip. One industry that could well see an uptick in business in the wake of this year’s multiple natural disasters is travel insurance, as 18 percent of respondents report they will absolutely purchase travel insurance more often in the future, and another 22 percent will consider doing so. This in on top of the 14 percent who already do.
- People care about the places they have vacationed. To keep abreast of conditions, as many as 29 percent of respondents have signed up to receive notifications from past vacation spots that have suffered damage. Another 41 percent frequently check for news.