Half of Americans believe the 2016 summer Olympic games should be delayed or canceled due to Zika, and almost two thirds have no interest in traveling to Rio de Janeiro or Brazil due to the virus, according to a new survey by travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance.
Of the 2,110 respondents to the online survey, conducted in late May, 71 percent would not be interested in traveling to Rio de Janeiro or Brazil for the 2016 Olympic Games, with 82 percent saying the Zika virus has influenced their opinions about traveling to South America during the summer. Forty-two percent said they definitely would not go, 23 percent would be less interested in going and 18 percent would go to the region but be worried about Zika during the trip.
In fact, nearly half (49 percent) think the Olympics should have been delayed (34 percent) or canceled (15 percent) to protect people from the virus. Also, 48 percent would rather wait to attend the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Recent acts of terrorism throughout the world have also played a factor in Americans' hesitation to travel to the Summer Olympics, with 28 percent reporting terror acts have made them less interested in attending.
The nearly 30 percent still interested in attending the games are enough to show a bump in traffic to the city, but they will keep their trips brief. In a review of travel bookings, comparing trips from July 15-31 in 2015 and 2016, Allianz Global Assistance found a 273 percent increase in travel plans to Rio, with 6,440 expected to visit from the United States. However, the average trip length is 13 days, far fewer than the 26-day average trip for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
"Unfortunately for countries where Zika can be found, not even the iconic Summer Olympics are enough to draw in American tourists," said Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz Global Assistance USA. "Travelers are proceeding with caution by either completely disregarding travel to Brazil or by hyper-focusing their trips to Rio without extending their stays past the Olympics. This is bad news for any host country that spends billions of dollars bringing in the games and expects to make the return from tourism."