A new survey by independent marketing communications agency Eric Mower + Associates asked 754 U.S. adults if recent natural disasters–from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to the California wildfires–have affected their winter vacation plans. The results reveal some bright spots; not only do many plan to return to impacted destinations this winter, but many say they will help with recovery efforts while there.
The report found that one-third of respondents vacation annually in Florida, a destination with areas that suffered damage in Hurricane Irma. Of those, 12 percent usually travel to the same hotel or resort every year. Another 21 percent return to the same destination but stay at different hotels or resorts. In an open-ended question, 35 percent cited Florida as their winter vacation destination choice, followed by California (9 percent), the Caribbean (7 percent), and Texas (6 percent). All four of those destinations include areas hit by natural disasters in 2017.
Sixty-five percent of U.S. travelers who take an annual winter vacation to an impacted destination won’t be swayed from their trip this year. Even more, they plan to pitch in with recovery efforts. Forty percent of those returning to their annual vacation spots say they will bring extra food, clothing, or medical supplies to donate for relief efforts. Another 23 percent will donate money for rebuilding, and 21 percent plan to volunteer while there.
Florida has the most loyal vacationers in the United States; sixty-four percent of those who routinely visit will travel to Florida this winter. And rebuilding looks optimistic as well. Thirty-two percent, the majority of respondents, expect that impacted destinations will come back better than ever, and another 32 percent believe they will rebuild to the level they were before. Of the remaining respondents, 22 percent believe success of rebuilding efforts depend on the destination. Outside the U.S., however, this confidence dips, with only 19 percent confidence in Mexico and lower for other affected regions.
Twenty-nine percent of travelers are still unsure they’ll return to their favorite spots this year. Five percent will skip the trip and say it will be a while before they return and 1 percent don’t see ever returning. The top reasons for not returning include concerns about infrastructure and the attractiveness of the destination. Others worry that their favorite restaurants, stores, and entertainment spots will not reopen. Some plan to visit areas that have not been impacted while others plan to not travel at all.
Those who will travel are already anticipating changes. Thirty-five percent who plan to visit impacted areas expect fewer crowds, twenty-eight percent plan to see visible damage, and twenty percent are expecting limited access to their favorite destinations.
However, those traveling plan on insuring their trip. Insurance businesses may see a rise in natural disaster travel insurance, with 18 percent saying that insurance is absolutely necessary. On the opposing side, only 22 percent will consider doing so.
Overall, travelers care about their favorite destinations. As many as 29 percent of respondents have signed up to receive notifications from past vacation spots that have suffered damage, and 41 percent frequently check the news for updates. The future of the travel industry in the U.S. looks bright with optimism from current vacationers.
Photo: Houston, Texas