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The Travel Industry Health Survey findings

July 1, 2013 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

The Travel Industry Health Survey1 was conducted online, among a sample of 104 Australian travel consultants between December 2012 and March 2013.

The survey was designed to provide a snapshot of what health information, if any, travel consultants share with travellers; what sources are used to obtain this information; and travel consultants’ overall understanding of                    travel-related health risks.

Respondents were drawn from across Australia, in capital and non-capital city areas via online and various travel agencies.

Survey participants were asked 19 questions, of which required either single, multiple or written responses.

The survey was run by VIVA! Communications and supported by bioCSL.EGT_Artical Banner B 250x250

The findings are as follows:

Key findings

  • According to travel consultants, their customers do not rank travel health as a priority, citing cancelled flights as the most common concern (29 per cent), followed by government travel warnings (26 per cent) and natural disasters (21 per cent).
  • The majority (82 per cent) of travel consultants underestimate, or do not know, the risk of experiencing a               travel-related disease (See pg 2 “Industry understanding of travel health” for details).
  • All travel consultants surveyed agreed that GPs and travel doctors are the most trusted source for providing                pre-travel health advice, with the majority (82 per cent) agreeing that they should be referring their customers to a healthcare professional.
  • The majority of travel consultants recommend that customers visiting less-developed countries visit their GP prior to travel (67 per cent) and / or should be referring to a travel-related website such as SmartTraveller (61 per cent).

Other findings

Travel health information and advice

  • Almost half of the survey respondents (48 per cent) offered travel health advice without any prompting by a customer, while another third (33 per cent) said they provided advice when queried by customers. The remainder said they did not provide any travel health information to their customers.
  • In relation to common sources of health information, travel consultants referred to one or more from the below:

–       Government sites, such as smarttraveller.gov.au (50 per cent);

–       Travel health association sites, such as the Travel Health and Advisory Group or THAG (40 per cent);

–       Travel insurance marketing collateral, which may include travel health information (36 per cent);

–       Tour provider marketing collateral, which may include travel health information (20 per cent).

  • More than half of those surveyed (62 per cent) stated that existing travel health sources sufficiently met the needs of their customers.    

Industry understanding of travel health

  • When asked approximately what percentage of international travellers will experience a travel-related disease, the majority (82 per cent) of respondents could either not answer the question or underestimated2 the travel health risk:

–          21 per cent responded “I don’t know”;

–          40 per cent underestimated the risk at 10 per cent; and

–          21 per cent underestimated the risk at 0.1 per cent.

  • The majority of travel consultants surveyed (75 per cent) correctly3 identified gastrointestinal infections as the most common type of travel-related disease. Other diseases identified from the response list include:

–          Insect-borne infections, such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever;

–          Respiratory and vaccine-preventable infections, such as influenza, measles and tuberculosis;

–          Other infections, such as rabies.

  • The majority of respondents correctly4 identified the various determinants to acquiring a travel-related disease, including season, destination, duration of travel, activities, age and pre-existing medical conditions. 12 per cent did not know the various determinants.
  • The majority of respondents (92 per cent) chose pre-travel vaccinations as a way to help prevent travel-related diseases, followed by eating and drinking safely (86 per cent), practising good hygiene (80 per cent) and using insect repellents (66 per cent). A small group of respondents (8 per cent) mistakenly believed staying in 5-star luxury accommodation5 is a way to help prevent travel-related disease.  Respondents were able to select more than one response to this question.

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