Stats: Americans’ Perception of Travel Safety Holds Steady Despite Rise in COVID Cases

According to the latest results of MMGY Global’s "Travel Safety Barometer" (Wave 6), which measures the effect of COVID-19 on traveler perceptions of safety, the current surge in cases of the virus across the U.S. has not made Americans more fearful of becoming ill—although overall confidence remains low. The rise in cases has also not affected the number of respondents who plan to take a leisure trip within the next six months, which has held steady at 40 percent since early June.

While the travel industry still has a long road to recovery ahead, MMGY says, there are two areas where perceptions of safety are rising: The safety of domestic flights and the perceptions of hotels.

In mid-April, domestic flights had a "Travel Safety Barometer" score of just 22 on a 100-point scale. That score nearly doubled in July to 39. This marks the fourth consecutive time in surveys spanning the past three months that consumers reported an increasing sense of safety in domestic air travel. Traveling by personal car is still considered the safest, with a rating of 72. Traveling by train just trails via airplane with a score of 35.

Hotels also had a small but significant increase in Wave 6 to 46 points (up from 44), scoring the same as vacation rentals. In the previous five surveys, vacation rentals were perceived as safer than hotels and resorts. Overall, domestic travel has a safety rating of 46, up slightly from 44 in early June. International travel still lags, even dropping lower than its June rating of 32 to 31 in the latest Wave.

Last month, travelers reported feeling increasingly safe taking part in activities like going to a park, visiting the beach and attending an outdoor sporting event; However, beach activities experienced a decline in perceived safety in July (47), potentially, according to MMGY, due to the substantial news coverage depicting beachgoers as irresponsible in the midst of rising COVID-19 cases. Visiting an outdoor concert or sporting event, a bar or restaurant, theme park, and indoor events like a concert, movie or sporting event all rated at a 38 or lower. Going to the park (55) was the leisure activity with the highest perceived safety.

Cruising still has a long way to go before it’s considered safe by a majority of Americans but it has seen a steady rise from a score of 14 on April 8 to 27 on July 8.  

The Travel Safety Barometer survey is conducted monthly among 1,200 U.S. residents who have taken an overnight trip for either business or leisure in the past 12 months. Wave 5 of the survey was conducted from May 29 - June 3, 2020, and Wave 6 was conducted June 29 - July 8, 2020.

Source: MMGY Global

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