How ongoing Covid-19 fears are impacting international travel plans and tips on how you can stay safe
A whopping 92 per cent of Australians are expected to travel in the next two years, new research shows, but three in four holiday-makers will be more worried about their health and safety than before the pandemic.
YouGov research, which was commissioned by Southern Cross Travel Insurance in March, involved a survey of more than 1000 adults and revealed the appetite for travel was strong following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
But the findings indicate post-pandemic fears are shaping travel decisions, including destinations and accommodation choices, holiday activities and travel insurance.
Southern Cross Travel Insurance chief executive Jo McCauley said the pandemic had impacted people’s method of planning holidays.
“It has made us more aware now, than ever, of the things that could potentially go wrong during our travels and the importance in planning for these unforeseen circumstances as much as we can,” she said.
“Prior to the pandemic, travel insurance used to be something some of our customers would purchase at the last minute with limited understanding about what they were and weren’t covered.
“We’re now finding Australian travellers are much more engaged with their travel insurance policy, and as a result, we’re experiencing a surge in inquiries into our contact centre.
“Customers (are) asking us a lot more detailed and hypothetical questions about what would, and wouldn’t, be covered in certain situations.”
Key findings from the research:
● 92 per cent of Australians are planning to travel within Australia or overseas in the next two years;
● 75 per cent of those travellers are more concerned about health and safety;
● 89 per cent say a destination’s Covid-19 record will impact their decision to travel there;
● 80 per cent consider travel insurance a high priority for international travel, while 65 per cent consider domestic travel insurance a high priority; and
● 36 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 do not consider travel insurance a high priority for international travel.
The research revealed drawn-out Covid-19 restrictions had influenced the type of holiday people wanted, with nature and getting away from big cities becoming a focus.
Survey results also showed hostel-style accommodation was less appealing, with more travellers now considering overall cleanliness and Covid-safe practices when choosing accommodation.
More people are also looking at cancellation policies.
The research also exposed generational differences, with adults aged 18 to 24 displaying a more relaxed approach to travel than older people.
“What is slightly concerning is that the data does indicate that this age group may not be taking the same precautions as older generations when planning a holiday, therefore leaving them more exposed to increased risk of harm or costly mistakes here and overseas,” Ms McCauley said.
“Regardless of age and health, we always recommend that travellers take out travel insurance.
“You just never know what might happen, and it’s better to be prepared than to be left feeling regretful and with a huge bill to pay.”
Flight Centre Travel Group’s global leisure chief executive James Kavanagh told NCA NewsWire that there had been a strong recovery nationwide since border restrictions were lifted, both domestically and internationally.
“Generally speaking, people are very keen to reconnect, whether that’s with friends and family, or for business, or to make the most of their holiday time,” he said.
“We have had queues outside some of our shops at times.”
Mr Kavanagh said there was an initial wave of leisure travel, with people visiting friends and relatives.
“Many were taking off as soon as they were able to,” he said.
“There is also a good base of future holiday bookings, particularly for cruises – people have booked well into next year.”
Popular destinations have so far included India and the Philippines as well as the UK, Europe, America, Fiji, New Zealand and Bali.
“We expect further recovery as people become more accustomed to travelling in the post-pandemic world,” Mr Kavanagh said.
“It is a little more complex right now than it was pre-Covid and we’re seeing people come into our shops who haven’t traditionally booked with an agent.”
Mr Kavanagh said flight capacity was also holding back the recovery.
“We need more seats on international routes and we expect that to happen over the next few months,” he said.
The Australian government recommends people be fully vaccinated against the virus and travel with proof of vaccination status documentation.
Unvaccinated Australians are strongly discouraged from international travel due to the health risks.
People are urged to check the Smart Traveller website for advice about destinations.
“The advice level of your destination can affect whether you can get insurance and what’s covered,” the website reads.
Travellers are also urged to find out what would happen if they tested positive while overseas, including financial implications.
Some insurance policies only cover medical and repatriation costs if you get the virus overseas, while others provide limited cover for cancellation costs.
It is also worth noting that some insurers only cover cancellation if you test positive and the policy was purchased more than 21 days before your departure date.
Most Covid-19 claims received by SCTI from January 1 to April 7 were for medical care and travel disruptions that occurred when customers contracted the virus while on their holiday.
The average claim paid amount was $2775.
Top 10 travel destination bookings since February:
- Los Angeles
Source: Fight Centre
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