One of the more insightful pieces of coronavirus-related tourism research I’ve read in the last few weeks comes courtesy of the folks at Destination Analysts, as part of their ongoing surveys of American travelers about their intent to travel. These findings are a couple of weeks old and while I’m sure the indicators continue to improve modestly, they should be a caution flag to anyone in the travel and tourism sector.
When travelers were asked April 24-26 about their level of agreement with the statement, “I do not want travelers coming to visit my community right now,” 64% of respondents said they agree or strongly agree. This finding is an improvement from mid-April, but it’s still concerning that only about a third of Americans want visitors in their cities and towns, even while many of those same people increasingly want to travel themselves. It’s a legitimate concern, of course. And while the result may differ by region, demographic, a destination’s anticipated source of visitors, population density of the community, etc., it’s still something every destination marketing organization and their partners should be thinking about how to address. You can have the best recovery marketing plan possible and still be met with community opposition.
Destination Analysts also asked the question, “How would you feel if you saw an advertisement today promoting your community as a place to come visit when it is safe?” The results are better here–only 36% said they would be unhappy or very unhappy to see such an ad which, if we’re honest, may not be much different from many communities’ pre-pandemic sentiments. But combined with the first result above, it’s another indication that not everyone in town is going to be happy about seeing visitors, even if they want the benefits they bring with them.
Time–and a continuing decline in deaths and hospitalizations–will help, but likely won’t be enough given expectations for a second wave of coronavirus at some point.
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