The pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on the world’s population and its economies, including the travel industry. Flight restrictions, lockdowns and border closings have become the new reality to help suppress the spread of the virus. It’s no surprise that getting sick, infected with COVID-19 or quarantined is the biggest worry among travelers these days, according to a recent Global Rescue survey of the most experienced travelers in the world.
The survey revealed travelers lost a wide range of meaningful personal and professional opportunities due to the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents gave up bucket list and adventure trips, more than half (53 percent) missed out on family vacations and a third (33 percent) relinquished a business trip. Others surrendered couples getaways, anniversaries, weddings, honeymoons, birthdays, wellness and humanitarian excursions.
Everyone was impacted by the pandemic, some more severely than others. What may come as a surprise is that travelers are sending a clear message that they are eager to fight back to regain their family vacations, adventure travels and business trips. How? By overwhelming margins, they want comprehensive, mandatory COVID-19 protections for themselves and all travelers.
And they are willing to pay for it.
The survey found 60 percent of travelers are willing to pay $50 to $100 or more for screening and testing services to minimize the effects of COVID-19 and—in the event of an infection—mitigation and remediation provisions for isolation accommodations, quarantine facilities and ground or air transport. Less than 4 percent indicated they wouldn’t be willing to pay any amount.
Travelers agreed by wide margins (94 percent) that they would feel safer if they had services and protections that cover pre- and on-trip COVID-19 testing, required quarantines, evacuation costs in the event of exposure or infection and door-to-door travel insurance. The majority (90 percent) of responding travelers were equally adamant in their support for mandating all travelers obtain the same COVID-19 protections.
Nearly everyone (87 percent) wants governments or organizations to step in and systematize programs calculated to beat COVID-19. But the resources and know-how to provide COVID-19 screening, testing, triage, quarantine facilities, ground and air transport, data collection and case management are not easily available to many governments, organizations and businesses.
To meet traveler demand for mandatory COVID-19 protections and services, officials from those entities need to work with organizations capable of planning and implementing a COVID-19 traveler solution that includes access to rapid testing, quarantine and isolation facilities and ground and air medical evacuation.
Travelers are eager to get back to travel, domestically at first, and then internationally starting next year. The survey found 61 percent of respondents said they would make a domestic trip before the end of the year, but only 13 percent said they expect to travel internationally by then. However, 86 percent of respondents indicated they would travel internationally in 2021.
Traveler resilience is impressive, and the survey confirms it. They are ready, willing and able to prepare and equip themselves to play an essential role in getting back to travel—or at least the best version of travel during a pandemic. But they cannot do it without efficient and effective partnerships with public authorities and travel risk and crisis response providers.
Dan Richards is CEO of Global Rescue, the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services to enterprises, governments and individuals. The Global Rescue Traveler Survey was performed between Sept. 15-20, 2020 and reflects responses of more than 2,200 current and former Global Rescue members. Founded in 2004, Global Rescue’s medical and crisis response capabilities are supported by the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations, Partners HealthCare and Elite Medical Group to provide a depth of expertise unparalleled in the travel risk management and crisis response industry.
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