According to the results of the Expedia’s 2013 Flip Flop Report, which annually studies behavior and preferences among beachgoers in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, European beachgoers were the most permissive with regard to toplessness on the beach.
German beachgoers led the world in one aspect of beach brazenness; a full 15% of Germans reported having sunbathed naked on a public beach. In 2013, Germany still ranked high in nudity, with a full 17% (the highest percentage) having gone naked at the beach.
While 73% of French beachgoers reported being “somewhat or very comfortable” with topless beaches, they were also among the least likely Europeans to engage in the behavior personally, with a full 42% of French beachgoers saying that they would “never” go topless or nude.
Roughly 5% of American beachgoers reported having gone nude at the beach. Canadian beachgoers, at 15%, are about twice as likely as their American counterparts (8%) to have ever sunbathed topless.
On the whole, across all countries:
Just under one quarter (23%) of beachgoers reported being “very or somewhat comfortable” with topless beaches;
· 29% described themselves as “neutral”; and
· 27% report feeling “somewhat or very uncomfortable” in that environment.
Countries with the highest percentage of beachgoers least comfortable with toplessness at the beach (somewhat/very) were: India (41%), South Korea (40%), Malaysia (39%), Singapore (39%)and Japan (36%). Both Americans and Canadians were more comfortable with topless beaches than residents of Japan and Malaysia, but less comfortable than some European countries (UK, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and Denmark).
· 25% of Americans and 30% of Canadians describe themselves as “comfortable”;
· 24% of Americans and 29% of Canadians feel “neutral”; while
· 27% of Americans and 25% of Canadians are “uncomfortable.”
Worldwide, 33% of beachgoers “would never” go topless or nude at the beach. 15% were less absolute, noting that they have “neither” gone topless nor nude, while 25% hinted that such behavior was at least possible by saying they had “not yet” gone topless or nude.
Theft More Worrisome Than Sharks and Speedos
Theft was the most prevalent concern for global beachgoers. Among American fears:
· 54% of American beachgoers cited “having wallet/possessions stolen” as their chief beach fear;
· 16% of American beachgoers reported worrying most about drowning/rip currents;
· 16% worried most about sharks; and
· Jellyfish stings were the top worry for 10% of American beachgoers.
Malaysia (42%) is the only country where more residents rank drowning as their top fear.
85% of Singaporean beachgoers reported a fear of sharks, with 41% refusing to swim as a result. 40% of American beachgoers reported fearing sharks but only 7% indicated that they avoid the water because of them. A strong majority of beachgoers in Denmark (71%) reported they had “no concern” about sharks.
Drinking, Cost, Weather, People-Watching, Swimming, Sunbathing and Walking
About half or more of beachgoers in Canada, UK, Ireland, India, Australia, US, New Zealand and South Korea described accessibility to alcohol as “at least somewhat” important when considering where to take a beach vacation. Worldwide, the two most important (“critically important” or “very important”) criteria when choosing a beach destination were “total cost of vacation” (70%) and “weather predictability” (51%).
Walks on the beach were the most popular activity for American beachgoers (78% participate), followed by “people-watching” (64%), swimming (61%) and sunbathing (56%).Looking at popular beach activities among countries’ beachgoers:
· Beachgoers in India (52%) reported participating the most in making sanding castles than those in any other country except Mexico (47%)
· Norway (74%), Ireland (73%) and the UK (71%) are among the countries where more than 70% of beachgoers sunbathe;
· Malaysians (23%) and Singaporeans (32%) are the least likely sunbathers
· 90% of German beachgoers reported swimming at the beach, the highest percentage worldwide;
· When not swimming, the next activity that German beachgoers participate in on the beach is reading (74%)
· Indian beachgoers – who overall led the most active beach lives –played the most water sports (52%), got the most massages (47%) and surfed the most (41%).
The Speedo-style suit proved a globally approved beachwear option. Overall, 65% of beachgoers worldwide reported finding bathing suits like the Speedo to be “acceptable.”
· This figure was highest in France ( 91%) and Italy (87%)Japanese (29%) and Norwegian (34%) beachgoers were the least accepting of a bathing suit such as Speedo ; and
· U.S. beachgoers were split – 52% considered a bathing suit such as the Speedo acceptable beach wear and 48% did not.
Word of Mouth and Traveler Reviews Top Beach Booking Drivers Globally
Most respondents (60%) reported that they typically book their beach vacations online. 77% of American beachgoers reported doing so. Globally, personal recommendations/word of mouth (55%) and traveler reviews (42%) were the most influential sources for consumers when planning a beach vacation. Last-minute package deals were cited by 58% of Malaysian beachgoers and 57% of their Mexican counterparts as a top driver.
Beyond traditional beach activities, respondents also cited the local cuisine (76%), historical sightseeing (72%) and shopping (62%) as top vacation activities. Of lesser interest were nightlife/dancing (43%) and golf (9%).
· Singaporean beachgoers (78%) emerge as the world’s top shoppers, narrowly edging out beachgoers in India (76%), Malaysia (73%), Australia (73%), US (72%) and Norway (70%);
· Malaysian (91%), South Korean (89%) and Norwegian (88%) beachgoers were most likely to enjoy local cuisine;
· Canadian beachgoers displayed the strongest interest in adding golf to a beach vacation compared to most countries
When asked to choose between all-inclusive resorts, vacation houses, name-brand hotel chains, condos, eco-friendly hotels and boutique hotels, all-inclusives were the most popular beach accommodation globally. 36% of American beachgoers preferred all-inclusive resorts, while 21% preferred vacation houses. Only 6% of American beachgoers identified eco-friendly hotels as their preferred beach accommodation, versus 13% of Spanish respondents and a full 28% of Indian beachgoers.