Ebola crisis unlikely to affect domestic holiday travel according to researchers at BHSU and the University of Florida

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, November 18, 2014/Categories: 2014

Concerns about the spread of Ebola are unlikely to deter the majority of U.S. travelers this Thanksgiving, according to a study conducted by Dr. Ignatius Cahyanto of BHSU and his collaborators at the University of Florida.

Despite concerns over the Ebola virus, a study conducted by researchers at Black Hills State University and the University of Florida reveals the majority (54 percent) of American travelers are comfortable flying in the U.S. for a leisure trip during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of those surveyed reported discomfort in flying during the next four weeks and less than one in five (18 percent) believe that because of Ebola, domestic air travel should be avoided.  A greater percentage (42 percent and 44 percent, respectively) reported discomfort or avoidance of international versus domestic air travel.

BHSU faculty members Dr. Ignatius Cahyanto, assistant professor of tourism and hospitality, and Dr. Michael Wiblishauser, assistant professor of exercise science, collaborated with the University of Florida's Tourism Crisis Management Institute to conduct the study.

"As the Ebola outbreak reached America, we knew we needed to do something," said Cahyanto.  "We wanted to look at the impact of the disease on travel behavior."

Over 1,600 domestic leisure travelers were surveyed online from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4.

Survey results indicate that as Americans approach the busiest travel season of the year, the majority (53 percent) of travelers do not believe traveling in the U.S. is risky at this time.  While three quarters of respondents do not feel they are at risk of Ebola exposure, one third (34 percent) of travelers are worried about an Ebola virus outbreak in the U.S.

Cahyanto suggests travelers seek information related to the Ebola outbreak on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and Twitter feed.  

For those in the travel and tourism industry, Cahyanto recommends reviewing the U.S. Travel Association&rsquos guide for Ebola Virus Disease Risk Management.

"Information is the traveler's best friend," said Cahyanto.

For more information on the survey results, contact Dr. Ignatius Cahyanto at Ignatius.Cahyanto@bhsu.edu or 605-642-6876.  

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