The world’s most experienced travellers revealed diverse behaviours when it comes to technology designed to improve airport check-ins, security processing and obtaining COVID-19 booster vaccinations, according to the Global Rescue Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey.
More than half (58%) of survey respondents have already received an updated COVID-19 vaccination or plan to get one, which is consistent with the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization. However, almost a third (29%) of respondents haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccination booster and do not plan to in the future. The remaining respondents (13%) are uncertain whether they will get a booster shot or not.
Vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers are equally as likely to travel internationally and domestically during the holidays between November 2023 and January 2024, according to the survey. “Travelers feel safe planning and taking trips and vacations regardless of their vaccination status,” said Dan Richards, CEO of The Global Rescue Companies, the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services, and a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce. “Confidence in institutions recommending the vaccine and boosters has declined dramatically. We expect vaccine booster acceptance to continue to fall among travellers,” Richards said.
The U.S. Government has discontinued issuing new proof of COVID-19 vaccination cards. A few countries still require unvaccinated travellers to present negative COVID test results before entry, but most are designated by the U.S. Department of State as Level 4 – Do Not Travel regions, including Libya, Mali, Niger, South Sudan and Central African Republic.
The threat of other diseases also isn’t appearing to impact traveller behaviour. When the Nipah virus, which has a fatality rate between 40% and 75% according to the CDC, broke out in India almost no survey respondents reported delaying, postponing or canceling a trip to the country or anywhere else.
Air travel in 2023 is predicted to be up by nearly a third (29%) compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to a report by Statista, and international travel may close out the year up by as much as 50%, according to the International Air Transport Association.
To help ease crowding and accelerate traveller processing, the U.S. TSA introduced the Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) system in 2019. More than two thousand CAT systems have been installed in more than 200 airports. Based on survey results, travellers have mixed reports about the system.
Nearly seven-out-of-10 respondents (69%) have not used the TSA Credential Authentication Technology, a fourth (23%) do not know if they have used it, and less than a tenth (8%) said they have used the system. Of those who used the system, about half (49%) said it sped up the security clearance process, 40% didn’t notice a difference, and the rest reported it took as long or longer than the previous system.
Installation of travel hub kiosks at airports and other transportation centers is designed to move travellers through the check-in and ticketing process faster. More than half of respondents (53%) have used the kiosks but nearly as many (47%) have not. Most (61%) said the kiosks sped up the check-in process, but 18% reported they would prefer to check in with a live agent. A minority (3%) said the kiosks were too complicated.