U.S. travelers are planning vacations with security in mind, according to a new study by Travelzoo.
Sixty percent (60%) of the U.S. travelers surveyed cited a trip within the U.S. as their primary vacation destination for 2017, according to the Travelzoo Spring 2017 Travel Trends Survey. Respondents named terrorism, anti-American sentiment and political unrest, along with crime and personal safety, among the top negative factors impacting their booking choices. Despite prominence in the news, concerns like the Zika virus ranked lower than any of the above as a safety or security concern.
Nearly half of those surveyed said that President Trump's election made them more reluctant to travel to parts of the U.S. More than half said the same about traveling abroad. In fact, while affordability was an influence on travel plans, 72 percent said they would pay more for their vacation if it meant increased security.
Meanwhile, 50 percent of travelers agreed that the global economy and stronger dollar make travel to Europe and other destinations outside the U.S. more desirable in 2017. However, recent terrorist events in some parts of the world were likely top of mind for travelers. When asked which cities they considered safest for spring 2017 travel, respondents named New York City, London and Rome among the safest cities to visit, while Istanbul, Jerusalem and Cairo were considered the least safe.
The majority of travelers will book their 2017 trips between January and April, hoping for better deals by planning in advance. More than half of those trips will be taken between May and July, indicating that the idea of a summer vacation is still very much alive. In a year of uncertainty, the traditional family beach vacation is still the most popular trip among summer travelers, with Florida and the south-eastern U.S. states of Georgia and South Carolina cited as the preferred destination.
A highly politicized but hot destination of interest this year is Cuba, especially with recent concerns that President Trump is set to impose new restrictions soon after the previous administration had lifted them, Travelzoo said. A third of all respondents had no interest in going to Cuba this year. However another one in three said they would be interested in visiting the island no matter what happened under the new Trump administration. The much discussed reinstatement of travel and other restrictions would only dissuade 12 percent of those considering Cuba as a destination.
"U.S. travelers showed some caution over international travel this year, but it is encouraging to see 88 percent of those surveyed still plan to take a proper vacation in 2017," said Michael Stitt, Travelzoo's president of North America. "At a time of change in the U.S., they may stay closer to home this year. This could be an opportunity for those going abroad—a strong dollar and the need for travel companies to spur demand may create some of the strongest deals we've seen in years."
The Travelzoo Spring Travel Trends 2017 Survey was completed by 1,086 consumers in the United States who responded to an online questionnaire distributed by third-party research agency Toluna. The questionnaires were completed January 2-3, 2017.