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`Global tourists rely on own safety perceptions'

Our Bureau

Pakistan and countries of West Asian region - India is included in this sector, though not named - are considered the least safe for leisure travel with ratings under 3.0. This is despite the fact that certain countries had withdrawn the strict caution in their travel advisories.

NEW DELHI, Aug. 4

IRRESPECTIVE of what the travel advisories of various developed countries suggest, leisure travellers seem to continue to rely on their own perceptions of safety in choosing a travel destination. This is one of the major findings of the latest international travel confidence index survey by NFO Plog Research, an NFO WorldGroup company.

This most recent study, conducted during June 13-25 this year, shows the shifting sands of destination safety perception among international travellers since September 11, based on incidents and public awareness, as well as traditional preferences. Respondents to the survey were asked to weigh the perception of safety of various international destinations. For this, a 10-point scale was used where 10 meant "very safe". The findings offer clear cues for leisure destinations seeking to attract travellers.

According to the findings of the survey, the fifth in the series since September 11, 2001, nearby and English-speaking locations earn the highest ratings from the respondents with a rating of at least 9.2 on the 10-point scale. Conversely, Pakistan and countries of West Asian region - India is included in this sector, though not named - are considered the least safe for leisure travel with ratings under 3.0. This is despite the fact that certain countries had withdrawn the strict caution in their travel advisories.

Among the respondents who are currently resisting overseas travel, almost a quarter, or 23 per cent to be exact, cited safety issues as a chief barrier. "Americans probably may always prefer Europe and Australia/New Zealand for leisure trips, but many of the destinations in the middle of the list are very worthwhile and also very safe," said Mr Peter Ostrowski, Senior Vice-President NFO Plog. He feels that travel organisations in countries in East Asia and Central America can do more to address Americans' concerns about conditions in these areas, and thereby encourage more visits by these desirable travellers.

Singapore, which successfully avoided a terrorist incident that would have otherwise threatened its status as a safe leisure travel destination, finds special mention. For, compared to the findings of the survey conducted in March, Singapore has actually gained in public perception as far as safety is concerned. "This change is probably thanks to the travellers' awareness of its overall security and good public relations efforts," Mr Ostrowski said.

Perceived safety tends to mirror actual travel patterns. While 60 per cent of the international travellers reported visits to Europe and the UK in the past 12 months, almost two out five ventured to non-US Americas, 17 per cent to Asia and one out of 10 to the South Pacific. Since the March study, travel to non-US Americas slipped from 51 per cent to 38 per cent while the other areas held steady.

The current survey was conducted among 363 respondents who had taken at least one international leisure-trip in the past 12 months.

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`Global tourists rely on own safety perceptions'


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