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Global survey by Europ Assistance reveals political, economic and lifestyle factors Australians are worried about when booking international holidays

Global report for the 2023 Holiday Barometer by Europ Assistance can be found here

Travelling internationally comes with risk, from lost luggage and delayed flights to more serious issues such as social unrest, health risks and terrorism attacks. However, such troubles can be navigated safely by savvy travellers through adequate research and following Government warnings, insurance policies and measuring the likelihood of risk. New research commissioned by Europ Assistance has revealed the current risks and considerations that Australians identify as essential when booking a holiday to an overseas destination, from terrorism and social unrest to the climate, and quality of internet access.

The research was commissioned by leading global assistance company, Europ Assistance, the parent company of award-winning Australian travel insurer InsureandGo. The report comes from the Europ Assistance 2023 Holiday Barometer, an annual global survey of 15000 Europ Assistance customers from 15 countries designed to uncover travel trends. Australia was included in the research for the first time this year after Europ Assistance’s acquisition of InsureandGo and Tick Travel Insurance.

Respondents were asked to indicate from the following factors, whether they played an essential role, an important but not essential role, or a secondary role in their choice of international holiday destination.

Over 70% of Aussies say destination economy is relevant to their choice of location

Poor economies can come with all sorts of risks for travellers, and Australians seem to understand this. Developing countries can offer poor water quality, a limited range of food choices, and may not offer many of the modern comforts and conveniences that travellers from Western countries have come to rely on. Three-quarters (71 per cent) of Australian respondents in the survey indicated the economic situation in the destination country was important to them. This includes 21 per cent who indicated the destination economy played an essential role in their decision-making.

3 in 4 Aussies don’t want to travel to cities and regions with high crime rates

Personal safety is high on the list of priorities for Aussie travellers. Being the victim of an attack or theft can cause long-term trauma, major travel disruptions, and high hospital or recovery costs for those who choose to travel without insurance. It’s no surprise then that three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents believe the risk of a personal attack – such as a hold-up or theft – is an essential or important factor in their choice of a holiday destination.

2 in 3 will avoid destinations where they can’t speak the language

According to ABS data, only one-fifth (21 per cent) of Australians speak a language other than English at home.[1] The Europ Assistance survey found that the respondent’s ability to speak the destination country’s language is important or essential for 65 per cent of respondents when making the decision on an international destination.

2 in 3 respondents will avoid destinations that increase their Covid infection risks

The World Health Organisation has declared Covid no longer a public health emergency of international concern.[1] Despite this, 89 per cent of Tasmanian respondents identified the risk of infection as an essential or important role in their choice of destination. This was followed by 78 per cent of ACT respondents, an equal 66 per cent of respondents from NSW and Victoria, 64 per cent from the Northern Territory, and 59 per cent from South Australia.

Ecological footprint is essential for just 6 per cent of retirees

Climate change is a pressing issue at the forefront of global government and business reform, with young people likely to bear a greater burden from its impacts[2]. Tourism is responsible for roughly 8 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions.[3] Despite this, only 6 per cent of over-65s respondents considered the ecological footprint of their trip as an essential consideration when booking an international holiday. Only 8 per cent of respondents aged 45-54 responded the same way, compared with 18 per cent of both those aged 55-64 and those aged 18-24, 20 per cent of those aged 25-34 and 25 per cent of those aged 35-44.

Terrorism and the war in Ukraine

Smart Traveller continues to identify international terrorism as “a threat to Australians living and travelling overseas”[4]. However, only 21 per cent of Tasmanian survey respondents identified the risk of terrorism as an essential consideration in their holiday booking, as did 23 per cent of Queenslanders, 25 per cent of South Australians, 34 per cent of Victorians, an equal 35 per cent of NSW and West Australian respondents, 36 per cent of Northern Territory respondents and 41 per cent of ACT respondents.

A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit on the impact of the Ukraine war on European tourism specified that the war would affect Europe’s tourism industry in four ways, including a loss of Russian and Ukrainian tourists, restrictions on airlines and use of airspace, higher food and fuel costs, and a significant hit to traveller confidence and disposable incomes.[5] While 49 per cent of the survey respondents consider the war as essential or important in their choice of destination, only 17 per cent deem the war an essential consideration  Older age groups are less concerned: 10 per cent of respondents aged 45-54, 13 per cent of over-65s and 17 per cent of those aged 55-64 deem it an essential consideration. This compared with 18 per cent of under-25s adults, 20 per cent of those aged 25-34 and 25 per cent respondents aged 35-44.

InsureandGo spokesperson and Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Etkind says, “The survey results show that Australian travellers have high levels of concern when a destination is likely to impact them personally. The war in Ukraine and the carbon footprint of their travel, for example, are less of a concern as these are unlikely to disrupt their trip.

“We expect that each person’s ecological footprint will become an increasing concern in future years along with education and awareness about low-carbon travel options. Travel insurance is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways for travellers to protect their health and finances in the event of some travel risks including ill health, COVID-19 infection, theft and natural disasters. It important for travellers to do adequate research and be aware of specific risks when heading overseas.”

[1] ABS. 2016.

[2] WHO. 2023.

[3] Responding to the Impacts of the Climate Crisis on Children and Youth. 2019.

[4] Sustainable Travel International.

[5] Smart Traveller. 2023.

[6] Economist Intelligence. 2023.