Stats: Europe Top Destination Region for U.S. Travelers

View of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Paris was rated as the most popular city. // Photo by iakovkalinin/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Europe remains the destination of choice for American leisure travelers, according to research consultancy BDRCs new Global Passenger Study.

According to the study, which surveyed more than 16,000 international air travelers, 30 percent of U.S. travelers picked Europe as their destination of choice, making it the most popular region. 27 percent picked Asia – Pacific, making it the second-most popular. Paris was the number one city, with 23 percent citing it as their first or second choice, while Italy was the most popular country, garnering 15 percent of the vote.

The study also found that American international air passengers, in comparison to their European, Asian and Latin American counterparts, are more likely to plan their trip in advance to know what to expect and are less interested in traveling independently (i.e. discovering things 'at their own pace'). Further, American leisure travelers spend more money on international vacations and stay more nights away than travelers from other regions. When visiting international destinations, Americans are keen to experience the local culture but also want to make sure they 'check off' the main tourist sites.

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Other key highlights include:

  • Among the sample of more than 2,000 American international travelers, an overwhelming majority (72%) are traveling (by air) for leisure.
  • These travelers take an average of 4 leisure trips abroad per year, and spend 28 nights in hotels.
  • Americans have the highest proportion of Boomers (a group with potentially greater travel flexibility than other demographics) traveling via air internationally.
  • When traveling abroad, Americans' hotel tier preference is for Upper Midscale accommodation (78%) followed by 45 percent opting for Luxury and 45 percent opting for Midscale.
  • Demonstrating the disruptive growth of the 'home sharing' sector, 39 percent of U.S. travelers surveyed have stayed at a home share property abroad (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.) in the past year.
  • In terms of airlines, most Americans are choosing to fly internationally on Delta, followed by American Airlines and United.

"These results demonstrate that U.S. travelers are more likely to want organized travel, seeking assistance in planning to avoid 'surprises' on the trip," said Matthew Petrie, president, BDRC Americas. "This desire to avoid the potential pitfalls of international travel is good news for travel companies and the growing 'custom travel' sector."

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