New research shows half of all travellers had their journeys disrupted in 2023

07 March 2024 by Sue Hamilton

  • Third Southern Cross Future of Travel report shows how many New Zealanders have faced disruption and disaster while travelling
  • Cancellations, extreme weather events, illness (in addition to the ever-present Covid) have jinxed the plans of 42 per cent of travellers domestically and 53 per cent internationally over the last 12 months

While 83 per cent of New Zealanders plan to travel domestically and 61 per cent hope to travel internationally this year, according to the latest study from Southern Cross Travel Insurance, there’s one thing nearly everyone will be taking into account and that’s disruption. 

Jo McCauley, CEO for Southern Cross Travel Insurance says, “Only 12 months ago, our customer service and claims teams were inundated with calls from travellers affected by the Auckland Floods  followed by Cyclone Gabrielle, even while they were in other parts of the world. We were able to help one family who ended up trapped initially in Japan and then Malaysia, as over several weeks, they sought a way to get back home to Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. They were initially affected by exceptional flooding and subsequently by Cyclone Gabrielle.” 

McCauley says these events, along with flight delays, cancelled events and accommodation, plus the ‘usuals’ like dropped, broken and stolen property and medical issues, prove the case time and time again for ensuring you have travel insurance in place.

“When we looked closely at the Future of Travel data, 53 per cent of international travellers experienced a disruption of some sort.  Of all international travellers over the past 12 months, 30 per cent experienced flight delays, cancellations, or lost luggage, 12 per cent were affected by an adverse weather event, and 12 per cent saw their travel disrupted by Covid. A further 10 per cent have been impacted by illness other than Covid .

“It’s a fairly similar story for those travelling domestically. Among all domestic travellers in the past 12 months, 21 per cent of cases have been airline related: lost luggage, flight delays or cancellations, 11 per cent have been Covid-related and nine per cent have been affected by illness other than Covid. And, as we’ve highlighted previously, domestic travel can be equally as expensive as international with Great Walks and domestic cruises costing thousands of dollars.”

“With so many travellers affected by delays, cancellations and the knock-on effects of these it’s good to see nearly 90 per cent of all travellers surveyed are putting travel insurance on the must pack list.”

One of the key questions in the Future of Travel study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders, given tough economic times, asked, “How do you currently prioritise travel amongst other discretionary spending options?”

McCauley says, “With 51 per cent of New Zealanders who plan to travel in the next 12 months believing travel is more important than other discretionary items they can spend their money on, it makes sense they should then protect that investment. When things go wrong, costs can really start to add up.

“We looked at our claims data for the 12 months from 1 Jan to 31 Dec 2023 to check if the Future of Travel findings lined up with our experience. It’s clear they do. While we can’t share the finer details, we’re happy to illustrate the scale of the claims we dealt with over the calendar year. We don’t anticipate this changing any time soon, so we encourage New Zealanders to ensure they pack a policy when heading away on the experience of a lifetime.”

For more information from the third Southern Cross Future of Travel research project, please see here.


Notes for editors:

The Future of Travel study was conducted online between 5th – 9th January 2024. The sample comprised of a nationally representative sample of 1,023 New Zealanders aged 18 years and older.