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A topical report on Safety & Security by Travelzoo and ITB Berlin

Of the more than 6,000 people from nine countries who were questioned, 97 per cent stated that safety was a consideration when making a travel decision.

Of the more than 6,000 people from nine countries who were questioned, 97 per cent stated that safety was a consideration when making a travel decision. This also applies when they have already booked a journey and have been disconcerted by the latest news. This was reported at the ITB Future Day at the ITB Berlin Convention by Richard Singer, a member of the board of Travelzoo Europe, with regard to the findings of a global research project on the subject of travel safety. The event was entitled “Travel Safety: Fears and Counter-Reactions of Global Tourists“. Twelve per cent of the audience gave the right replies to the TED poll at the start of the event, but the majority under-estimated it.

For the study into Safety & Security that was commissioned jointly with ITB Berlin, the world market leader Travelzoo collaborated with a leading British tourism university to evaluate the findings by Norstat Research. Consumers on the world’s leading travel markets, including Europe, Japan, South Africa, India and North America, were questioned.

The item that caused the most fear was terrorism. Their safety requirements are more important to them than in the benchmark year 2014. They are also concerned about natural disasters, disease and criminality at both a local and a national level. The issues are further complicated by the ”new face of terror“, according to Richard Singer. “Activities occur at places where people go and spend their time.“

Singer raised the awarness of the travel industry to these issues: “The result is that people feel insecure“, and this feeling varies from one nation to another. The countries most affected are France and Japan with 50 and 48 per cent respectively. The city regarded as the safest in the world is Sydney in Australia, in contrast to Istanbul, where those questioned felt that “absolute fear dominated“. Among travel bookings that have already been made Singer referred to “buyers’ regret“ and quoted the volumes for the different markets: USA (24 per cent), United Kingdom (17 per cent) and Germany (13 per cent). He issued the following appeal to tour operators: “Information must be made available not only in advance but also to those who have already made bookings.“

Singer regards price reductions as falling short of what is required. He also offered a solution, regarding the situation as an opportunity. Tour operators should be proactive and consistent in providing clear travel advice from official sources. He gave an example of best practice from the TUI travel group, which “demonstrates this in every stage of planning and making reservations“. Singer envisages that the large tour operators, TUI and Thomas Cook, should become the benchmark for all the others: “They could develop certification systems for safety standards, and also the various precautionary measures to be undertaken at the holiday destination.“

Singer summed up by saying that even though this is a complex subject, it is one that cannot be ignored. In view of the responsibilities borne by the travel industry, the Travelzoo board is convinced that “customers expect to receive advice from the travel sector.”