Despite reports of the latest variant of COVID-19, BA5, generating waves of reinfections and single-digit increases in hospitalizations in the United States, travelers are sticking to their plans to go abroad . Nearly 80% of the world’s most experienced travelers say the threat of a new variant of COVID is unlikely to force them to cancel or postpone their international trips this year, according to the Global Rescue Traveler Safety and Sentiment Survey for the summer of 2022.
“Whether it’s a revenge trip or responsible travel after vaccination – or a combination of the two – 7 in 10 travelers are much less concerned about travel compared to the start of the pandemic. They feel safe enough to plan trips and vacations because they are immunized, the borders are open, and they have confidence that they will be able to return home if the worst happens,” said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue and member of the United States. Travel and Tourism Advisory Council to the United States Department of Commerce.
Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents have traveled abroad since the pandemic. The rest plan to travel abroad by the end of the year (16%) or in the first three months of 2023 (9%).
The increase in international travel is likely due to the recent policy change in the United States. Nearly half of travelers (49%) say they are more likely to travel internationally in the next 12 months now that US authorities no longer require passengers traveling to the United States to present a negative COVID viral test or COVID recovery documentation before boarding their air travel.
“The decision to end the requirement for a negative COVID test to enter the United States is a welcome step toward recognizing the decreasing severity of the disease, the urgent need to restore traveler confidence, and support for an industry badly damaged by the pandemic,” Richards said.
Traveler hesitancy is unchanged since the start of 2022. After two years of pandemic-related travel restrictions, a third of survey respondents continue to feel a “re-entry” into travel anxiety with concerns about where to go or when to resume the trip.
The biggest fear of international travelers among travelers is testing positive for COVID and being stranded away from home (33%), a decrease of 37% from the start of 2022. Having an accident (24% ), trip cancellation (21%) and civil unrest/terrorism (8%) were the next most important concerns. Theft, war, natural disasters and difficulty finding a COVID-19 testing facility each accounted for less than 2% of responses.
“The pandemic has generated a tectonic shift in the mindset of travellers. Travelers have learned that emergency rescue and evacuation services are essential, whether due to COVID, natural disaster, civil unrest, or simply emergency assistance when traveling. The majority of travelers (64%) say medical evacuation services are more important than Cancellation for Any Reason (18%) or traditional travel insurance (15%). Traveler preferences have shifted travel protection for emergency medical services and evacuation from ‘optional’ to ‘mandatory’,” Richards said.