We’re all going crazy over holiday safety

Working in the travel industry, I’ve seen the huge impact that recent acts of terrorism have had on a handful of destinations’ tourism industry. Millions of people all across the world rely on tourism as their sole income — and when people stop visiting and the numbers of tourists decline, you can imagine the devastating effect this can have on those who depend on it.

The sad thing is that holidaymakers are steering clear of destinations that they deem ‘unsafe’, despite Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice saying otherwise. It’s akin to being guilty by association.

But so many people now are being careful about where they choose to spend their hard-earned wages.

According to BDRC Continental’s latest Holiday Trends survey on the British holidaymaker, nearly eight out of 10 (77%) Brits say safety is now a ‘consideration’ when planning a holiday, while four in 10 (42%) describe safety as a ‘serious consideration’.

Safety-first British holidaymakers

There is a direct correlation between concern for safety and propensity to travel abroad with those who see safety as a ‘serious consideration’ more likely to stay in the UK when taking a holiday.

When looking at the perceptions of safety of 11 leading tourism destinations, Holiday Trends 2016 also found that Paris ranked 10th, with only 37% feeling the city is ‘very safe’ or ‘fairly safe’. Only Istanbul ranked lower.

The safest three cities were Edinburgh, Sydney and London, with ratings of 71%, 68% and 60% respectively. In January, ABTA reported that January overseas bookings were highest in traditional ‘safe-spots’ such as Spain and Portugal. In February, the leading tour operator Mark Warner pulled out of Turkey.

Jon Young, Research Director at BDRC Continental, says: “It’s no surprise the issue of safety has taken on such prominence given the tragic world events in the last 12 months or so. To persuade risk-averse Britons to visit, overseas destinations will need to demonstrate their inherent safety and this is already happening. Tourist boards such as the Czech Republic are leading with crime and terrorism stats.”

Holidaysafe.co.uk echoed these findings in as survey undertaken with 250 families. It found that global events have affected popular holiday destinations such as Turkey and Tunisia, with 82% of respondents admitting that they have impacted the likelihood to travel to these countries. Of these, 42% have selected new destinations for their holidays this year.

Meanwhile, research undertaken by Travelzoo found more than two thirds (71%) of Brits are selecting holiday location based on how safe they feel the destination is.

In fact, safety has become the most important factor in travel decisions, ahead of affordability (52%) and good weather (42%) for the majority of respondents.

Most operators are also reporting a rise in staycation holidays, with Travelzoo’s research finding that a holiday at home in the UK was the preferred choice for most people, followed by Spain and France.

BDRC Continental’s Holiday Trends survey found that seven out of 10 (73%) Brits intend on taking a short holiday at home this year.

Offering words of sage advice, Young added: “At times of uncertainty the most influential sources are those we trust. In addition, when feeling fearful, we will default to easy, trusted options.

“Complicated choices will create uncertainty and add to underlying worries. So holiday providers should make the decision as simple as possible for holidaymakers. Hand-holding ‘from landing to leaving’ and information aids such as itineraries can help people make their choice. Travel agents, tour operators and tourist boards have a clear role to play here.”