Travel companies in the U.S. are up against a vexing foe: declining trust in public health bodies.
As the travel and hospitality sectors have tried to reopen during the pandemic, it’s been common to hear companies try to reassure travelers by broadcasting that their reopening precautions are guided by bodies like the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S., as well as federal and local health authorities.
However, it appears fewer and fewer travelers are impressed by that. According to the most recent edition of Longwood’s International Traveler Sentiment Survey, conducted on July 29, confidence in the guidance coming from various government sources and other public health officials is declining rapidly.
“The percentage of travelers relying on information on the safety of U.S. travel from the CDC or other federal health agencies has dropped from 57% on April 22nd to 45% on July 29th. Confidence in information from the White House Coronavirus Task Force also declined, from 24% in April to 17% in July. Reliance on information from state health officials has slipped from 36% in April to 27% in July.”
That’s a significant decline in a relatively short amount of time. It’s also become clear that most Americans disapprove of the country’s handling of the pandemic writ large. An NPR/Ipsos poll found two-thirds of Americans believe the U.S. is dealing with the pandemic worse than other countries. It’s worth keeping in mind that two thirds of Americans agreeing on anything in 2020 is unusual.
All this has big implications for the U.S. travel industry and its jagged recovery. It’s one thing to market travel to consumers when they feel they are leaving home in a country that’s doing what it can to fight an admittedly intractable and stubborn virus. It’s another thing to ask them to take that risk when they believe authorities aren’t fulfilling their duty to protect Americans.
Even the cleverest marketing will find it difficult to counteract that.
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