National Survey Reveals Tourist Anxiety and Concerns post- Hurricane Matthew

National Survey Reveals Tourist Anxiety and Concerns post- Hurricane Matthew


October 26, 2016

BEAUFORT, S.C. – A recent national survey reveals vital information to local and regional businesses on the impacts of Hurricane Matthew. The University of South Carolina Beaufort’s Lowcountry and Resort Islands Tourism Institute, in conjunction with USCB’s hospitality management program, recently conducted a national survey on tourist’s perceptions and possible actions as a result of the hurricane.

Dr. John Salazar, Professor of Hospitality Management and director of the institute, along with Dr. Rob Carey, Clemson University Research Economist estimated that the tourism economic loss due to Hurricane Matthew’s seven-day mandatory evacuation is $19.6 million for the Hilton Head Island area.

As a result, Dr. Salazar wanted to understand if visitors had anxieties when traveling to destinations that had a recent natural disaster. “This survey information helps understand travelers’ concerns about vacationing in a destination after a natural disaster which can be important for tourism professionals and marketers to know as they reach out to visitors after the hurricane,” said Salazar.

The survey examined if US travelers remained motivated to travel to the South Atlantic Coast after the storm damage from Hurricane Matthew, and how confident potential travelers were in the quality of tourism attractions and businesses and the ones available post-Matthew.

The results showed that 85 percent of US residents who plan on travelling to a vacation destination on the South Atlantic Coast still intend to visit that destination within the next three months.

In addition, when asked if the storm impacted the quality of tourism-affiliated businesses, 64 percent were confident that the quality of those businesses remained intact. Only 59 percent of the potential future visitors to the South Atlantic Coast were confident that the same number of tourism businesses would be available.

Seventeen percent of the future visitors within the next three months were concerned about the quality of lodging and restaurants after Hurricane Matthew. However, when asked about the number of lodging accommodations choices and restaurant availability impacted by storm damage, 28 percent were not confident in accommodation choices and 23 percent were not confident in restaurant choices.

Also, travelers were least confident in both the quality and the number of recreation opportunities (i.e., golf, bicycling, boating, excursions, etc.). Twenty-five percent were not confident in the quality of recreation opportunities and 36 percent in beaches, while 32 percent were not confident in the number of recreation opportunities available and 38 percent in the number of beaches available.

More than 1,400 US residents were randomly surveyed and, the definition of the South Atlantic Coast included 19 coastal destinations located in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina and stretched from Miami, Florida to Outer Banks, North Carolina.

The cities include Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, Jacksonville, FL, Brunswick, GA, Golden Isles, GA, Savannah, Hilton Head Island Bluffton, SC, Beaufort, SC, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, NC, Jacksonville, NC and Outer Banks, NC.

Contact Dr. John Salazar at to purchase a copy of the full report on the survey results. His email is jsalazar@uscb.edu.

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Located in the heart of the Carolina Sea Islands, the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) is a baccalaureate member of the USC system, serving the southeast coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Since 2002, USCB has tripled its academic degree programs, doubled its FTE enrollment, opened its first on-campus housing (now serving more than 900), joined the NAIA Sun Conference, and fielded conference and national award-winning Sand Shark athletes in nine sports. The university’s two campuses serve a diverse student body of 2,000 students. The Hilton Head Gateway campus in Bluffton, SC, offers cutting-edge Computational Science and Nursing laboratories, and a broad range of academic degree programs. The Historic Beaufort campus, located on Beaufort’s downtown waterfront, houses an innovative baccalaureate Studio Art program in close proximity to Beaufort’s many art galleries. The University of South Carolina Beaufort offers students an exceptional place to learn and live in an environment focused on growth, preservation and opportunity.

For more information about the University of South Carolina Beaufort, contact Kerry Jarvis, public information coordinator, at 843-208-8030 or jarviskc@uscb.edu.