People in Portugal consider that it is risky to travel for holidays, work or to visit friends and family, in Portugal or abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a study released on Monday.
Carried out by the Polytechnic Institute of Viseu (IPV) and the University of Coimbra (UC), and based on data collected over the last three months, the study shows that the pandemic has had “a strong impact” on the perception of safety by the Portuguese when travelling at home and abroad.
“People agree that safety is a key factor for travel and is even the most important attribute for the choice of a destination, in global terms, but it is even more crucial when considering international travel,” concludes the study, to which the Lusa agency had access.
The answers (more than a thousand considered valid) obtained through an ‘online’ questionnaire showed that the Portuguese consider “travel for holidays, work trips, trips with family or to visit friends and relatives within the country to be risky”.
“These answers are even more expressive for the same trips abroad,” the authors stress.
Safety is considered one of the most important aspects to travel in all generations, the older ones revealing “a perception of higher travel risk”, both to national and international destinations.
This study, which covered the period from 2 February to 2 May, is the first to analyse the effects of the pandemic on the perception of safety for travelling and for the practice of leisure activities and tourism, as well as the fear and concern related to contagion and the measures taken in Portugal.
“People’s fear of travelling increased progressively, at each period studied, as did the fear of contagion in personal and family terms,” the team said, adding that in the Third State of Emergency, “the Portuguese felt, however, it was less risky to travel, especially within the country.
“At the same time, the importance given to safety has increased, reaching the highest values in the last period, especially for international travel”, they added.
If, at the beginning of the investigation, “travelling with the family was considered safe, or very safe, especially in Portugal”, this perception “has diminished drastically over time, and the difference between doing so in Portugal or abroad has also diminished”.
The study also indicated that, due to the new coronavirus, those living in Portugal feel very it is unsafe to practice leisure and tourism activities.
“This is particularly true for casinos or nightclubs, which 80 percent of respondents indicated as very unsafe activities”, they stressed.
Between 60 percent and 80 percent of the respondents also classify as very unsafe visits to theme parks, galleries, museums and monuments, urban centres and historical centres, participation in concerts, festivals, sports or religious events, the practice of sports in enclosed spaces, meals in restaurants, stays in hotel accommodation, participation in tourist visits and shopping in malls and markets.
“Going to beaches, rivers and lakes is a less unsafe activity, according to the participants in the study. Going to natural parks, walking trails and practising nature sports are the only activities considered relatively safe by the Portuguese in the context of the pandemic,” they added.
As for fear and concern about contagion, the study shows that “85 percent of respondents feel that citizens and tourists could be victims of contagion and that this fear applies to themselves and their families”.
“Despite this concern, the nervousness shown is moderate, noting also that they feel little or no need for additional information on protective measures in relation to Covid-19”.
Half of the people who responded to the questionnaire admitted to “changing various aspects of their lives and daily routines because of the disease, but when it comes to holiday and travel plans the percentage rises to 65 percent ”.
The fears “are more pronounced in the older generation, with the generation between the ages of 40 and 65 feeling a greater need for additional information to protect themselves from contagion than the younger generations”.
This study, which involves the IPV’s Digital Services Research Centre and the UC’s Centre for Geography and Spatial Planning Studies, is still ongoing and will in the future allow the impacts of Covid-19 to ber followed not only in Portugal, but also in other parts of the world.