Majority of U.S. winter vacationers undeterred by recent natural disasters

In Mower’s first Quick Take on Travel survey, a new series tracking hot-button U.S. travel industry trends and issues, we asked 754 U.S. adults if recent natural disasters — from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria to the California wildfires — had affected their winter vacation plans. The results reveal some bright spots in the forecast: Not only do many plan to return to impacted destinations this winter, but some say they’ll help with recovery efforts while there.

A few highlights:

Of those, 12% usually travel to the same hotel or resort every year. Another 21% return to the same destination, but like to stay at different hotels or resorts. In an open-ended question, the vast majority cited Florida as their winter vacation destination of choice (35%), followed by California (9%), the Caribbean (7%) and Texas (6%). All four were hit by major natural disasters this year.

Two thirds (65%) of U.S. travelers who take an annual winter vacation to an impacted destination will not be swayed from their trip this year.

Forty percent of those who are returning to their annual vacation spots report they’ll bring extra food, clothing or medical supplies to donate toward relief efforts. Another 23% will donate money to the region to help them rebuild, and 21% plan to roll up their sleeves and volunteer while they’re there.

As many as 64% of those who routinely visit Florida have plans to travel there this winter.

The majority of respondents expect that impacted destinations will come back better than ever (32%) or rebuild to the level they were before (32%). Of the remainder, 22% believe success of rebuilding efforts will vary by destination. They anticipate U.S. regions will recover more fully, with 65% projecting a bright outlook for Florida, followed by Texas (58%) and California (52%). Outside the mainland U.S., confidence dips to 19% for Mexico, followed by the U.S. Virgin Islands at 18%, Puerto Rico at 17% and the Dominican Republic at 14%.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents are unsure they’ll return to their favorite spots this year. Five percent will skip the trip this year and say it will be a while before they go back. One percent don’t foresee ever returning. Of those who expressed reservations or responded negatively, top reasons include concerns about infrastructure (30%), the current attractiveness of the destination (25%), and that their favorite restaurants, stores and amusements won’t be open (20%). Thirty-two percent plan to visit somewhere that hasn’t been impacted, while the rest either aren’t sure or plan not to travel at all.

The majority of respondents who plan to visit an impacted area expect to experience fewer crowds (35%), see visible damage (28%), and have limited access to their favorite restaurants and shops (20%). Twenty percent don’t expect to experience any differences this year.

One industry that could well see an uptick in business in the wake of this year’s multiple natural disasters is travel insurance, as 18% of respondents report they will absolutely purchase travel insurance more often in the future and another 22% will consider doing so. This is on top of the 14% who already do.

To keep abreast of conditions, as many as 29% of respondents have signed up to receive notifications from past vacation spots that have suffered damage. Another 41% frequently check for news on what’s going on.

We look forward to sharing more Quick Take on Travel results in coming months.