Despite concerns with the economy there are genuine sources of optimism for the travel industry. The most recent May MMGY Global/U.S. Travel Association travelhorizons survey, reports that "money available" for travel experienced a gain of 20 percent and "affordability of travel" rose eight percent.
This suggests that consumers are increasingly more positive about their ability to afford travel adding up to good news for agents, suppliers and destinations.
The survey estimates that 56 percent of U.S. adults intend to take at least one leisure trip through July 2012.
However, the latest "affordability of travel" index of 102.6 still remains well below its July 2009 peak of 124.0, when travel suppliers ramped up discounts and special offers to counteract the impact of the Great Recession, Peter Yesawich of MMGY Global reports. "While these substantial gains would normally be touted as the start of a turnaround from the challenges through which the industry has passed the previous two years, comparisons with February 2011 reveal that the new TSI is still two points below the level of 95.2 observed one year ago – signaling that U.S. adults' attitudes toward travel remain essentially unchanged, " the survey cautions.
The overall U.S. Traveler Sentiment Index (TSI) soared 10 percent in February 2012 as perceptions of travel across all six factors from which the index is derived exhibited substantial improvement from last quarter. According to the most recent travelhorizons survey, the overall TSI now stands at 93.6, up from 85.0 in October 2011.
Leisure travel intentions have, similarly, changed little during the past 12 months. According to the travelhorizons survey, 56 percent of U.S. adults intend to take at least one trip primarily for leisure purposes between February and July 2012.
One quarter of all adults, or 59 million, are not planning to travel for leisure purposes during the next six months. The remaining 44 million adults, however, have yet to decide whether or not to take a leisure trip, the survey reports. "This statistic represents a significant market opportunity for destinations and other travel service suppliers to convert this 'latent' demand, and indicates that aggressive marketers will likely be rewarded for their proactive business development efforts," the survey reports.