PLYMOUTH, MN — The majority of travellers are continuing with their original travel plans to destinations where there have been confirmed cases of the Zika virus, according to a new study by the Travel Leaders Group.
The survey looked at cancellations, altered and delayed travel plans among clientele of some 1,100 travel agents from Travel Leaders Group’s flagship Travel Leaders brand as well as Nexion, Protravel International, Results! Travel, Tzell Travel Group and Vacation.com.
When asked ‘How many clients are cancelling their travel plans because of the Zika virus’, 74.1% of Travel Leaders Group’s travel agents reported ‘none’ for clients in their 20s and 30s; 89.8% stated no cancellations for clients in their 40s and 50s; and 93.0% stated there are no cancellations for clients 60 years and older.
In addition, 94.5% indicated they have had no cancellations for their destination wedding clients, and 93.3% said they had no cancellations for their honeymoon clientele. The survey was conducted Feb. 3 – 5.
“Understanding the seriousness of the Zika virus, our agents have been providing detailed information to their clients over the course of the last few months – particularly to those who are pregnant or may be trying to start a family – so that they may make informed decisions about their travel plans. Our job is to advocate for our clients, and our clients’ safety is always our top priority,” said Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. “Even we were a bit surprised to learn just how limited the impact of the Zika virus has been on the overwhelming majority of our clients’ travel plans. The World Health Organization has been clear in stating it ‘found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus’ and, armed with the facts, most travelers are opting to travel even as they heed expert advice for avoiding mosquito bites.”
Meanwhile Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Castro says the South American country is signing an agreement with the University of Texas to develop a vaccine against the Zika virus. Castro says the goal is to develop a vaccine ready for clinical testing within 12 months.
Key findings for travellers in their 20s and 30s:
Cancellations: According to Travel Leaders Group’s survey data, 74.1% of travel agents stated ‘none’ of their clients in their 20s and 30s are cancelling (and not rebooking) their travel plans due to the Zika virus, while another 21.6% indicated that six or fewer clients are cancelling their travel plans (11.1% said it was limited to 1-2 clients).
For those indicating clients in their 20s and 30s are canceling travel plans because of Zika virus, 89.8% of cancellations are due to a pregnancy or possible pregnancy.
Altering Travel Plans: 78.1% said ‘none’ of their clients in their 20s and 30s are altering travel plans and traveling to a different destination due to the Zika virus.
For those few selecting alternative destinations, the top five were the continental U.S., Hawaii, Europe, Alaska and Bermuda.
Delaying Travel Plans: When asked, ‘How many clients in their 20s and 30s are delaying their original travel plans due to the Zika virus?’ 83% of Travel Leaders Group travel agents stated ‘None of my clients’ and 13.6% indicated six or fewer clients were delaying plans (7.7% said it was limited to 1-2 clients).