Wanderlust has become a strong incentive for Americans to get COVID-19 vaccines, a new study finds.
The bucket list beckons, and “many people consider travel an essential part of their lifestyle and a contributor to their sense of well-being,” said study lead author Dogan Gursoy, a professor in hospitality business management at Washington State University.
“They’ll weigh the value of travel experiences they might miss by not being vaccinated against the vaccines’ possible risks,” Gursoy said in a university news release.
The study included more than 1,000 U.S. residents who were asked to rate their travel desire on a 5-point scale. Those with a strong travel desire were less likely to say they were concerned about potential vaccine side effects or long-term complications and were more likely to say they would get vaccinated.
Even among the 266 respondents who previously said they would not get vaccinated, their vaccine hesitancy weakened when a strong urge to travel was combined with messages about COVID vaccine safety and the potential consequences — including spreading the coronavirus to loved ones — of not getting vaccinated.
The findings about travel desire and vaccination intention were true even for people who didn’t have upcoming vacation plans or business trips, according to the study. The results appear in the journal Tourism Management.
Since early 2020, Gursoy has led efforts to track the pandemic’s effect on the hospitality and tourism industries. About 5,000 people have answered questions about vaccines in the past surveys, and about 30% consistently say they won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine.
These new findings could help guide the travel and tourism industry’s recovery from the pandemic, according to the researchers.
“Appealing to people’s longing for a vacation getaway could help overcome their vaccine hesitancy, resulting in higher vaccination rates and reductions in COVID-related travel restrictions and advisories,” Gursoy said.
For more on COVID-19 and travel, go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCE: Washington State University, news release, Feb. 25, 2022