How safe is your holiday destination?

How safe is your holiday destination?

Globetrotters from more than 70 countries took part in CNN's Global Tourism survey on travel perceptions and trends. Here's what they think about before hitting the road
CNN asked global respondents from more than 70 countries to identify key factors that influenced their travel decisions.

Though cost is an important factor in deciding on a vacation destination, today's international travelers are putting safety first, according to a new study by CNN. 

The global study of CNN consumers’ travel perceptions and behavioral trends asked respondents from more than 70 countries to identify key influencing factors in their decision-making process before traveling for leisure or business.

The survey finds that for more than two-thirds of global respondents, safety and security is of greatest concern when choosing an international travel destination. 

Cost ranks second, reflecting the continuing impact of the economic crisis on consumers.

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Earlier this month, 20 Paris police officers patrolled the Louvre in response to complaints that the museum was plagued by gangs of pickpockets. Tourists cite security as a top factor in their decision-making process. However, respondents aren't just price conscious, they're also discerning.

"Reputation" is the third most important factor for respondents when considering travel destinations.

“That safety and security is significantly more important for respondents than the cost of travel, even in austere times, is an indicator that, in times of regional unrest, the pendulum has swung," says Didier Mormesse, senior vice president of ad sales research, development and audience insight at CNN International. 

"With reputation also a key factor, tourist boards will clearly continue to have a vital role to play in shaping international perceptions of their country to encourage tourism growth."

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Here are some select results: 

67% say "safety and security" matter most
60% are "price" driven
58% are driven by "reputation"
55% say "knowledge and availability of information" matters most
54% are driven by "diversity of things to do/amenities"

So, which are the safest countries to visit?

There are, of course, a number of ways to calculate "safety and security," but Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade recently produced an interactive map with brief descriptions of safety concerns in countries around the world. See the map here.

The remarks range from red-letter "avoid all travel" warnings (Afghanistan) to "exercise a high degree of caution" (Russia) to "exercise normal security precautions" (Panama).

How travelers research a destination

The survey also shows how respondents gather information prior to travel.

Fifty percent use four or more main information sources when looking for destinations. Destination-specific websites lead the way as a source of travel information (57%) with travel content sites (55%) a close second.

Fifty-five percent rely on recommendations and information garnered from family, friends and colleagues, while 49% of the surveyed travelers say review websites are a top information source for travel. 

The CNN "Consumer Connect: Travel & Tourism" survey was carried out between October and December 2012 and conducted by Ipsos.

The company surveyed 3,106 respondents from more than 70 countries worldwide, recruited via CNN websites. The main areas covered included travel behavior and activities, decision-making factors, cultural events’ impact on travel, outlook on 2013 and hotels brand data. 

What factors do you you consider before choosing a travel destination? What tools do you use to aid in your research? Share your travel planning tips in the comments box below.