Half of Americans believe the 2016 summer Olympic games should be delayed or canceled due to Zika, and almost two thirds have no interest in traveling to Rio de Janeiro or Brazil due to the virus, according to a new survey by leading travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance.
The survey found that 71 percent of Americans would not be interested in traveling to Rio de Janeiro or Brazil for the 2016 Olympic Games, with 82 percent of respondents saying the Zika virus impacted their opinion towards traveling to South America during the summer. Forty-two percent of those respondents said that they definitely would not go, 23 percent would be less interested in going and 18 percent would go, but be worried about Zika during the trip.
In fact, nearly half of Americans (49 percent) think that the Olympics should have been delayed (34 percent) or canceled (15 percent) to protect people from the virus. To this point, 48 percent would rather wait to attend the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Recent acts of terrorism throughout the world have also played a factor in Americans’ hesitation to travel to the Summer Olympics with 28 percent reporting terror acts have made them less interested in attending.
Other factors hindering interest in traveling to the Olympics include travel costs (31 percent), safety concerns (25 percent), health concerns (11 percent), lack of interest in sports (10 percent), large crowds (8 percent), difficulty getting tickets to the games (8 percent) and lack of desire to travel (6 percent).
And those that are going to the city for the games are getting in and out as fast as possible – spending half as much time in the city as previous Olympic Games.
The nearly 30 percent of Americans still interested in traveling to Rio de Janeiro are enough to show a bump in traffic to the city, however this small number of travelers are keeping their trips brief. In a review of travel bookings** comparing trips from July 15-31 in 2015 and 2016, Allianz Global Assistance found there was a 273 percent increase in travel plans to Rio with 6,440 Americans expected. That said, the average trip length is only 13 days, which is far fewer than the 26-day average from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
“Unfortunately for countries where Zika can be found, not even the iconic Summer Olympics are enough to draw in American tourists,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz Global Assistance USA. “Travelers are proceeding with caution by either completely disregarding travel to Brazil or by hyper focusing their trips to Rio without extending their stays past the Olympics. This is bad news for any host country that spends billions of dollars bringing in the games and expects to make the return from tourism.”
Whether it’s a medical issue or a travel delay, a travel insurance policy*** from Allianz Global Assistance can provide peace of mind, especially for travel outside the U.S., where many hospitals may request cash payments in the thousands before treatment even begins. Many U.S. health insurance policies (including Medicare and Medicaid) may not cover international travel; those that do may not cover the cost of medical evacuation.
Allianz Global Assistance offers travel insurance through most major U.S. airlines, leading travel agents, online travel agencies and directly to consumers. For more information on Allianz Global Assistance and the policies offered for travelers.