What research should you do before you set off into the sunset?
CNN  — 

Though cost is an important factor in deciding on a vacation destination, today’s international travelers are putting safety first, according to a study by CNN.

The global study of CNN consumers’ travel perceptions and behavioral trends asked respondents from more than 70 countries to identify key influencing factors in their decision-making process before traveling for leisure or business.

The survey finds that for more than two-thirds of global respondents, safety and security is of greatest concern when choosing an international travel destination.

Cost ranks second, reflecting the continuing impact of the economic crisis on consumers.

However, respondents aren’t just price conscious, they’re also discerning.

Key findings

The majority of travelers think safety and security comes first.

67% say “safety and security” matter most

60% are “price” driven

58% are driven by “reputation”

55% say “knowledge and availability of information” matters most

54% are driven by “diversity of things to do/amenities”

Which countries are the safest?

There are, of course, a number of ways to calculate “safety and security,” but Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade recently produced an interactive map with brief descriptions of safety concerns in countries around the world.

The remarks range from red-letter “avoid all travel” warnings (Afghanistan) to “exercise a high degree of caution” (Russia) to “exercise normal security precautions” (Panama).

How travelers research a destination

How do you plan your vacations?

The survey also shows how respondents gather information prior to travel.

Fifty percent use four or more main information sources when looking for destinations. Destination-specific websites lead the way as a source of travel information (57%) with travel content sites (55%) a close second.

Fifty-five percent rely on recommendations and information garnered from family, friends and colleagues, while 49% of the surveyed travelers say review websites are a top information source for travel.

The CNN “Consumer Connect: Travel & Tourism” survey was carried out between October and December 2012 and conducted by Ipsos.

The company surveyed 3,106 respondents from more than 70 countries worldwide, recruited via CNN websites. The main areas covered included travel behavior and activities, decision-making factors, cultural events’ impact on travel, outlook on 2013 and hotels brand data.

Editor’s note: This article was previously published in 2013. It was reformatted and republished in 2017.