With at least five confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, a new study shows that Americans are just beginning to rethink their travel plans.
The outbreak of the coronavirus in China is continually evolving, and the U.S. travel industry is preparing for how this might impact tourism in the coming weeks. With the increased media attention globally, American travelers are showing some concern with the outbreak, where nearly 1 in 5 American travelers (19%) who have trips booked in the next three months have already changed their travel plans due to concerns of coronavirus, according to a new study.
Conducted by researchers at the University of Florida’s Tourism Crisis Management Initiative, the study found that 2 in 5 of American travelers surveyed (41%) are concerned about coronavirus and air travel. Just over half (52%) indicated their household thinks it is dangerous to travel internationally by air and are likely to avoid traveling due to the recent coronavirus outbreak.
“Since the disease is still mainly isolated to China, the vast majority of respondents (80%) said that domestic air travel does not need to be avoided right now,” said Lori Pennington-Gray, director of UF’s Tourism Crisis Management Initiative.
Data was gathered from 550 U.S. travelers who completed an online national survey on January 26 and 27. The study shows 80 percent of those sampled said that their chances of being exposed to coronavirus are low and if they travel in the next few weeks they will not contract coronavirus.
Another finding from this study indicated that those who felt more confident and able to identify and take action to prevent coronavirus were less likely to avoid travel.
“It is important to mention the role that people have in personal protective behaviors. According to the CDC, people should engage in washing hands, preventing the spread of germs by using a face mask and covering sneezes and coughs by using a tissue,” said Danielle Barbe, PhD candidate and researcher in the Tourism Crisis Management Initiative.
Research on crisis and risk shows that the more aware and informed people are, the less they perceive high risks — which is important for the tourism industry. As is the case with any crisis, Pennington-Gray said, it is imperative that U.S. travelers receives quick, accurate, transparent and informative information throughout the crisis.
About the Tourism Crisis Management Initiative
The Tourism Crisis Management Initiative (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.