Ebola not likely to alter Americans’ holiday travel plans, survey shows

Published: November 12 2014

Category:Business, Health, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Ebola may be a worldwide health crisis, but a new study shows it’s not likely to keep many Americans from heading over the river and through the woods for the holidays.

American travelers continue to be concerned with the Ebola outbreak, but despite the media hype, more than 90 percent say recent Ebola cases in the U.S. won’t stop them from traveling in the U.S., according to a new study.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Florida’s Tourism Crisis Management Institute and colleagues at Black Hills State University in South Dakota, the study found that while one in three (31 percent) American travelers are concerned about Ebola and air travel right now, approximately 60 percent indicated their household is unlikely to avoid traveling in the U.S. due to the recent Ebola cases here.

“Although Ebola is a scary disease, domestic travelers are not letting that stop them,” said Lori Pennington-Gray, director of the Tourism Crisis Management Institute. “As we get closer to one of the largest travel seasons of the year, this bodes well for the travel industry with respect to future travel plans. This is not to say that if the number of Ebola cases increases in the coming weeks that leisure travelers might not change their plans.”

Pennington-Gray and her colleagues gathered the data from 1,613 domestic leisure travelers who completed the online survey from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4.

Furthermore, the study shows, although four in five domestic leisure travelers believe Ebola is frightening, more than 70 percent don’t believe it’s likely they’ll contract Ebola if they travel by air the U.S. during the next few weeks. In addition, three-quarters don’t believe their chance of being exposed to Ebola is high, and 60 percent are very comfortable with traveling in the U.S. right now. More than 60 percent disagreed that domestic air travel should be avoided right now because of Ebola.

The survey also found that a majority of domestic leisure travelers found theme parks and state natural areas to be safe places to travel, in that they disagreed with the statements that large theme parks (51 percent) and state parks and campgrounds (62 percent) should be avoided right now because of Ebola.

As is the case with any crisis, Pennington-Gray said, it is imperative that the traveling leisure market receives accurate and timely information.

About the Tourism Crisis Management Institute
The Tourism Crisis Management Institute (TCMI) at the University of Florida is the only tourism focused academic crisis management institute in the world. TCMI develops research-driven solutions that address planning, preparedness, response, and recovery in local, state, and national tourism economies. For more information, see www.tourismcrisis.org.


Source: Lori Pennington-Gray, 352-294-1657, penngray@hhp.ufl.edu

Category:Business, Health, Research