Industry NewsTraveler Perceptions of Safety Hold Steady Despite Rise in COVID-19 Cases

Traveler Perceptions of Safety Hold Steady Despite Rise in COVID-19 Cases

Kansas City, Mo. — According to the latest results of MMGY Global’s Travel Safety Barometer, which measures the impact of COVID-19 on traveler perceptions of safety, the current surge in cases of the virus across the United States has also not impacted 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, there are two areas where perceptions of safety are rising, according to the sixth wave of MMGY Global’s survey. Americans’ confidence in the safety of domestic flights increased, as did positive perceptions of hotels, which may be due to the extensive measures hotels and airlines have taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 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. Hotels also had a small but significant increase in the sixth wave of the survey, scoring the same as vacation rentals—46 points.

“It’s encouraging to see the current headlines are not rattling American travelers, but we know these gains are fragile and could disappear if current COVID-19 hot spots can’t quickly flatten the curve or there are future outbreaks linked to leisure travel,” said Chris Davidson, executive vice president of insights and strategy at MMGY Global.

Scenes of crowded beaches, parks, and restaurants from the Independence Day holiday may have put a dent in the perceptions of how safe these activities are. Respondents in the sixth and latest wave of the survey felt these activities were less safe compared with respondents in the fifth wave of the study conducted in early June.

The latest data also shows that business travel continues to suffer from poor perceptions of safety. Since June, travelers have rated the safety of an off-site business meeting at 38 on the 100-point scale, and the safety of attending a business conference or convention has hovered at or around 30. Both of these scores are relatively low compared with other travel categories—the conference and convention rating finished on par with the perceived safety of attending an indoor sporting event.

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. The fifth wave of the survey was conducted from May 29 through June 3, 2020, and the sixth wave was conducted June 29 through July 8, 2020.


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