SAINT LEO, FL ­­– Only a small cross-section of Americans say they will change their summer plans to travel outside of the United States because of fears of terrorism, health concerns, or financial or family issues. According to a new survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, 3 percent of respondents changed their vacation plans, but 22.7 percent said they still have plans to travel out of the country in the summer or fall. Most polled, 67.8 percent, say they had no plans for international travel.

The online poll was conducted June 10 through June 16, and had 1,001 respondents nationally.

Of those who cancelled travel abroad, about one in five said concern about health safety, such as the Zika virus, prompted canceling or changing travel plans (21.3 percent).  “The biggest change is for Latin America and the Caribbean because of the Zika virus,” said John Heather, Saint Leo instructor of international tourism and hospitality management.  In light of cancellations, destinations in those areas are offering deep discounts to try to lure tourists back, Heather said.

Other reasons cited for changing or canceling plans, according to the Saint Leo poll, were concern over terrorism (36.2 percent); plans simply changed (38.3 percent); and financial/family or personal issues (29.8 percent). Another 2.1 percent said they were “unsure” of why they changed plans.

Among those who say they were not planning on traveling abroad, the largest group, 48.9 percent, cited financial reasons.

Fears about terrorism were given as a reason by 23.9 percent. Following terrorist attacks in Paris (November 2015) and Belgium (March 2016), attempts are being made to drive tourism. “Europe is offering some deals now,” Heather commented. “And the dollar is very strong.”


On another topic, interest in travel to Cuba remains high, with 42.9 percent of Americans polled saying they are very or somewhat interested in visiting the Caribbean island. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute also asked about the destination last year, and interest was nearly identical at 42 percent in June 2015. Most respondents who voiced interest in traveling to Cuba cited “general curiosity” at 60.9 percent as the main appeal for making a trip. Other reasons were interest in arts and culture; history and politics; and environment/ecology.

Saint Leo’s Heather suggested that it is difficult to know whether interest in going to Cuba will convert to actual travel to the nation. “It is hard to find a flight, hard to find a hotel. Until Cuba improves their tourism product to American standards and adds more inventory, it won’t happen,” Heather predicted.

Cruise ships could be the bright spot for growth among Americans traveling to Cuba, he added. Vacationers could stay in the ships’ accommodations while making excursions to visit and sightsee.

Road Trips

Saint Leo’s poll also looked at the effect of gas prices on travel in the summer and fall with 44.9 percent saying they will travel by car more. Another 44.6 said they would not while 10.5 percent said they were unsure. Younger respondents, those 18 to 44, say the lower fuel prices will have them on the road (55.5 percent). In comparison, 37.2 percent in the 45 to 64 age bracket and 35.6 percent in the 65 and older category say the gas prices will have them traveling.

More About Our Research

METHODOLOGY: All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll sampled opinion of 1,001 adults and has a plus or minus 3.0 percent margin of error.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can be found here. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( is a regionally accredited, liberal-arts-based institution known for an inclusive Catholic heritage, enduring values, and a capacity for innovation. The school was chartered in 1889 by Catholic Benedictine monks in rural Pasco County, FL, making Saint Leo the first Catholic college in the state. Saint Leo provides access to education to people of all faiths, emphasizing the Benedictine philosophy of balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit.

The university welcomes learners from all generations and backgrounds, from civilian occupations and the armed forces, and from across the country and more than 60 nations around the world. Saint Leo’s nearly 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students may elect to study at the beautiful University Campus in Florida, at more than 40 teaching locations in seven states, or online from any location. The university’s degree programs range from the associate to the doctorate. Through these rich offerings, Saint Leo develops principled leaders for a challenging world.

Saint Leo University boasts nearly 80,000 alumni in all 50 states, Washington, DC, five U.S. territories, and 72 countries.

Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text)
or Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text)