Thursday Briefing: CLIA’s 2017 Forecast, Holiday Travel to Hit Record

CLIA’s 2017 cruise industry forecast and AAA’s look at what to expect from holiday travel are the headlines to watch today. 

CLIA Forecasts What’s Next for Cruises in 2017

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has released the 2017 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, which predicts a steady pace of cruise travel interest and significant investment for the coming year. 

Cruise travel is expected to continue to increase next year, according to CLIA, with an estimated 25.3 million passengers expected to sail, up from 15.8 million 10 years prior (2007). More ships will set sail in 2017 as well. CLIA reports that cruise lines are scheduled to debut 26 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2017 for a total investment of more than $6.8 billion in new vessels. From 2017-2026 the industry is expected to introduce a total of 97 new cruise ships totaling an estimated investment of $53 billion through 2026.

CLIA has also picked the top eight cruise travel trends to watch in the coming year:

  1. New Generation Takes to the Water – A recent study found that younger generations—including Millennials and Generation X — will embrace cruise travel more than ever before, rating it as better than land-based vacations, all-inclusive resorts, tours, vacation house rentals, or camping.
  2. Travel Agent Use Increases – According to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, consumer use of a travel agent increased nearly eighty percent from 2015 to 2016. Supporting this, CLIA is forecasting that travel agents will continue to be the matchmakers between travelers and cruise lines in 2017. Today, there are more than 25,000 CLIA-member travel agents globally compared to 12,000 in 2010. CLIA also found that cruisers report high levels of satisfaction with their travel experience when assisted by an agent.
  3. River Cruise Demand Increases – River cruises offer travelers a unique and intimate travel experience. Due to demand, CLIA cruise line Members currently deploy 184 river cruise ships with 13 new river cruise ships on order for 2017, an increase of about 7 percent.
  4. More Private Islands on Cruise Itineraries – As more cruise lines introduce private island destinations, travelers are responding and booking these itineraries. In 2017, cruise lines offer ports on a total of seven private islands.
  5. New Cruisers Will Take to the Sea – Interest in ocean cruising is projected to remain strong in 2017. When asked what kind of vacations might be of interest in the next three years nearly half (48 percent) of non-cruisers expressed interest in taking an ocean cruise while a striking 85 percent of cruisers also expressed interest.
  6. Drivable Port Locations in Favor – The cruise industry offers a variety of small and large market port location options across the United States and internationally. Citing the advantages of a myriad of locations seven out of ten (69 percent) non-cruisers believe the greatest benefit is cost savings and three quarters (74 percent) of cruisers like the convenience of driving to a cruise ship.
  7. Lure of Celeb Chefs – Cruise travelers are embracing specialty dining and will continue to consider cruise dining experiences based upon celebrity chefs. This year, several cruise lines feature restaurants and dishes created by famous chefs including Guy Fieri, Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa and Geoffrey Zakarian
  8. Demand for Expedition Cruises – According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, adventure travel is growing at a record pace and CLIA is reporting that cruise expeditions are seeing the impact. In fact, itineraries for Antarctica regularly sell out. 

Source: CLIA

AAA: Holiday Travel to Set New Record

Closer in, expect a busy holiday travel period, according to AAA’s new holiday travel forecast. 

More than 103 million Americans, the most on record, are expected to travel for the year-end holidays, according to AAA. This represents a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more people traveling, compared with last year. This comes despite one fewer travel day this holiday season. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Friday, December 23 to Monday, January 2, 2017.

The increase in holiday travel this year is being driven by additional consumer spending, a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages, AAA said. Additionally, low gas prices and increased consumer optimism will prompt more Americans than ever to set out.

The vast majority of travelers—93.6 million people—will take a holiday road trip, an increase of 1.5 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase by 2.5 percent, with more than 6 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will decrease slightly, to 3.5 million travelers.

Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.22, 22 cents more than the average price on New Year’s Day 2016 ($2.00). Most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest New Year’s Day gas prices since 2009, when the national average was $1.62.

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, holiday airfares are projected to average $204 for a roundtrip flight along the top 40 domestic routes. Rates for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated lodgings are expected to increase 7 percent, with travelers spending an average of $128 and $160 per night, respectively. Daily car rental rates will average $66, slightly lower than last year’s holiday travel season.

The most popular destinations, based on AAA.com bookings, are:

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. Orlando, Florida
  3. New York City
  4. San Diego, California
  5. Anaheim, California

Source: AAA

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