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Segmenting Sentiment: Categorizing Keen and Averse Travellers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Abstract
The COVID-19 virus has devastated the Canadian tourism economy. Understanding residents' attitudes toward travel in the current economic climate can help destination management organizations better prepare a pathway to recovery. This study seeks to delineate Canadians' travel safety attitudes to support this recovery by analyzing Destination Canada’s mid-November omnibus study which surveyed 1,819 Canadians. This study uses Latent Class Analysis to model heterogeneity in travel safety sentiment among Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic and to profile the characteristics of people with different travel safety dispositions. The cluster names are interpreted by the authors and the reported cluster sizes include Typical Canadians (43.4%), Domestic Travel-ready (23.5%), Travel-averse (17. 2%), and Unfettered Travellers (15.9%). These findings confirm the presence of variances in travel safety sentiments across Canadian segments. Further, this study found significant differences in travel safety evaluations by age, education, children at home, employment, income, and geography. Practical implications are discussed.
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