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Russian War On Ukraine Is Making Americans Rethink European Travel

As warmer weather approaches—and vaccination rates rise while COVID-19 numbers decline—it had seemed, up to this point, as though Americans would be turning out in droves during the spring and summer seasons to take their long-awaited “post-pandemic” vacations.

But now, given Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine, traveler sentiment in the U.S.—as well as actual travel logistics—has seemingly been impacted by a conflict that’s broken out on the opposite side of the globe.

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Given the interconnectedness of today’s world, such an assault on foreign soil can feel strangely close to home. And, if nothing else, it can certainly make people reconsider their plans to visit any place that could potentially be drawn into the violence.

Much of Europe has been ramping up for a much-anticipated (and sorely needed) tourism recovery of near-normal levels in 2022; but, with all-out war being waged in its backyard, that prospect has been thrown into doubt.

Travel site The Vacationer just released the results of its ‘Russia-Ukraine Conflict Travel Survey’, which was conducted on March 1 among a representative group of American adults over the age of 18 to determine how the Russian invasion of Ukraine is affecting Americans’ 2022 travel plans.

Map of Europe. (Photo via iStock/Getty Images E+/wsfurlan)

The Vacationer’s key findings include:

— Almost 40 percent of American adults said that Russia’s war on Ukraine has led them to reconsider their 2022 travel plans. 14 percent said they’re rethinking plans to travel both domestically and internationally, while 25 percent said it would only affect their international travel plans. 60 percent of respondents said the conflict would not make them reconsider their plans.

— Nearly 65 percent of survey participants said they would endure at least one major inconvenience if it meant they could reach their travel destinations this year. 26 percent said they would be willing to pay more money; 26 percent said they’d withstand lengthier travel periods; 15 percent would put up with more flight layovers prompted by airspace issues, and 15 percent said they would fly to a different city and drive to their destination.

— Remembering the 2014 shoot-down of passenger flight MH17 over Ukrainian airspace, 36 percent said they feel less safe traveling now they did prior to Russia invading Ukraine. Close to 62 percent said they feel about the same about traveling now as they did before.

MMGY Travel Intelligence likewise conducted its own study on how the war now being fought in Eastern Europe is impacting U.S. traveler sentiment and behavior, surveying hundreds who had planned to visit the continent. It found that Americans are now twice as likely to alter their vacation plans to Europe because of the Ukrainian conflict than due to COVID-19.

Results of MMGY Travel Intelligence’s study on the war in Ukraine affecting traveler sentiment. (photo courtesy of MMGY Travel Intelligence)

MMGY’s key findings include:

— 62 percent of U.S. travelers expressed fears about the war in Ukraine spreading to nearby nations as the primary factor impacting their European travel plans. That’s twice the number (31 percent) who said COVID-19 health and safety concerns were a key consideration.

— 47 percent of respondents said they’re going to “wait and see” how the Ukrainian situation plays out before they make plans to travel to Europe this year. Twenty percent said the conflict wouldn’t affect their decision to go to Europe this year, while 33 percent said that it would either likely or definitely cause them to cancel or reschedule their European trips planned for 2022.

— 50 percent of survey participants expressed concerns about their flights, trains or cruises getting canceled or delayed, as well as possible border closures.

— The most sought-after European destinations among the U.S. travelers surveyed were Italy, followed by France, the United Kingdom and Germany.

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