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Thoughts from Big Blue...Is Tourism About to Become Really Political?

In our ground-breaking study, the “Influence of Political Values on Destination Selection,” my colleague Lauren Schlau and I identified that a person’s political orientation (Democrat, Center, Republican) impacted how the perceived different issues related to destination selection. For example:

· Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to support COVID masking and social distancing policies.

· Republicans were more likely to take a plane to a destination and avoid places with a visible homeless population.

· Both democrats and republicans and, to a lesser degree, those in the political center indicated they visit places where they perceive political position or values are aligned with their values.

The Rise of Political Values

The implications of political values on destination selection become significant when considering the current political climate, especially when it comes to COVID vaccinations. Today, the country is dividing itself into two camps, those states and counties that are vaccinated and those that are not, closely aligned politically. This chart below tells an interesting story of counties that are vaccinated and unvaccinated and their political leanings. Add to it many organizations, both public and private, are requiring proof of vaccination.

Source: Charles Gaba

Tourism Implications

This current situation raises some interesting issues for tourism destinations. One can only imagine consumers choosing to eliminate destinations from their decision set because of the vaccination status of a destination they are considering. Additionally, some very high-profile states have rejected masking and social distancing protocols, which, as our study has indicated, are essential considerations in destination selection.

Source: The Travel Analytics Group


After a very stable post-recession decade for destinations and DMOs, the tourism world has experienced significant impacts. COVID-19, Overtourism, climate change, and not the possibility of political orientation and values playing an increasing role in consumer decision making.

A free copy of the summary white paper Do Political Values Influence Destination Decisions? can be found here

For additional video commentary click here

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