Travelers are planning multiple trips in 2023, according to the summer 2023 Global Rescue Travelers Sentiment and Safety Survey. “Half of the world’s most experienced travelers are planning four or more trips this year, and they’re using credit card reward points to help pay for them,” said Dan Richards, CEO of the Global Rescue Companies and a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce.  

Global Rescue conducted a survey of more than 2,300 of its current and former members from July 11-15, 2023. The respondents shared a range of behaviors, attitudes and preferences regarding international and domestic travel.   

A fifth of respondents are planning six or more trips in 2023, another 31% will take four-to-five leisure trips, and 41% said they would take two-to-three vacations. Only seven percent said they would take a single trip and one percent reported they would not take any leisure trips in 2023.   

With inflation and the rising cost of travel, it’s no surprise that most respondents (64%) reported using credit card reward programs to offset leisure trips and vacation expenses.   

Adventure Tourism Increases, but Not Everywhere 

Travelers are catching up on lost trip opportunities due to the pandemic. Demand for adventure tourism has shot up since COVID-19 with African safaris, hiking trips, camping excursions and motorcycle tours experiencing the fastest growth. But, there’s a limit to the risks travelers are willing to take, according to the survey.   

The overwhelming majority of respondents (75%) would decline space tourism, even if they could afford the half-a-million-dollar cost for a few minutes of weightlessness. When it comes to undersea adventure tourism, 65% of respondents said they would take part in snorkeling or scuba diving tours of reefs, underwater caves, marine life and shipwrecks. Only 5% would stay at an undersea hotel or dine at an underwater restaurant. Less than 2% would sign up for a deep-sea tour in a submarine.   

[Related Reading: Immersive Adventure Tourism] 

“Travelers are demonstrating a growing desire for authentic experiences in an increasingly globalized and connected world,” said Richards. “While pent-up demand is playing a role in the adventure travel boom, we don’t expect to see it subside anytime soon.”   

As more people return to travel and plan multiple trips, most (61%) are traveling with a guide, an outfitter or an expedition organization in 2023. “Respondents consistently indicated they include on-the-ground experts on their trips to reap the benefits of their local language skills, cultural knowledge, touring efficiency and overall safety,” said Matt Aubin, associate director of Global Rescue partner and channel programs.   

Travel Fears Nosedive  

Traveler fears are dwindling at the same time many are hoping to plan trips to countries currently listed by the U.S. Department of State as Level 3 – Reconsider Travel. “As the travel rebound continues, traveler worries are shifting dramatically and their appetite for exploring the world is increasing,” Richards said.  

Traveler concerns about civil unrest and terrorism decreased by half in the last six months, withering from 14% to 7% since January 2023, according to the survey. Apprehension about COVID exposure and infection while traveling has dramatically dropped at a rate of 88%, down to 4% compared to 33% in August 2022.   

Nearly half (48%) of the world’s most experienced travelers claim their greatest anxiety is having an injury or accident followed by trip cancellation (13%). Yet, despite that, travelers are increasingly interested in visiting new destinations outside of the traditional ones.   

Before the pandemic, people were more content with traditional tourist attractions. Viewing the Mona Lisa in the Louvre and taking a River Seine cruise in Paris, visiting India’s Taj Mahal, or soaking up the sun on the Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, during Carnival, historically were go-to vacation activities. Now, tourists have a growing enthusiasm for places beyond the traditional, some of which are risky.  

The U.S. Department of State issues a travel advisory for every country and rates them on a risk scale from 1 to 4. A country with a Level 4 designation carries a “Do Not Travel” advisory due to a greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. A Level 1 travel advisory is the lowest level for safety and security and advises travelers to exercise normal precautions. Travelers going to countries with a Level 2 advisory are encouraged to exercise increased caution due to heightened risks to safety and security.   

[Related Reading: Executive Protection vs Bodyguards] 

The countries listed by U.S. officials as Level 3 are the destinations where government officials advise people to reconsider and avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. Among the list of 20 countries with a Level 3 travel advisory, Egypt, Colombia, China and Hong Kong are the top four destinations the world’s most experienced travelers want to visit. Nigeria, El Salvador, Cote d’Ivoire and Niger were the least desirous places, according to the survey.  

“The desire and willingness to travel to less touristy destinations are how many travelers will avoid the crowds associated with the post-pandemic travel rebound,” Richards said. “Before COVID, people were content with traditional tourist destinations. But now, places that are less accessible and a little more risky are gaining interest.” 

Despite the travel rebound and the end of the COVID crisis, the threat of another pandemic remains. “Some may believe there’s no need to spend money to protect against a new potential pandemic, but they’re wrong,” Richards said. “It’s not a matter of if but when a new pandemic will emerge, and we have the means to prevent it, provided the international community has the will.” Most survey respondents (60%) agree and want international governments to invest in and develop pathogen scanners that can be deployed in transportation hubs like airports and railway terminals.  

Survey Reveals Bad Tourist Behaviors  

Loud, rude conduct and disrespectful or entitled behavior by tourists while visiting another country are the leading characteristics that infuriate travelers, according to the survey.   

[Related Reading: Better Awareness, Safer Travel] 

The worst tourist conduct observed by other global travelers was being too loud (27%). In close second place, 26% of respondents reported that travelers’ unwillingness to try local cuisine or follow local social customs was the most infuriating behavior. The third most disappointing trait (18%) was the expectation that destination residents speak the same language as the traveler. Fewer than 10% of respondents said tourists who wear revealing, offensive or shabby clothing were the most exasperating.   

“When you’re visiting a new country, it’s essential to respect the local culture and customs. Behaving like a tourist can be seen as disrespectful and offensive to locals. Travelers should do the research to know and understand the little things about the customs and culture of their destination,” said Harding Bush, a senior manager for security operations at Global Rescue.    

Looking and acting like a tourist can produce assumptions that you are inexperienced, naive, lacking cultural awareness, and wealthy. “Standing out as a tourist can make you appear vulnerable and an easy target for scams, pickpockets and other types of crime. By blending in you reduce the risk of local criminals or scam artists spotting you as a foreign traveler and targeting you for fraudulent schemes or petty crimes,” Bush said.    

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