Summer Leisure Travel Up Despite Economy

beachHarris Interactive offers some good news for the travel industry, affirming that many Americans are continuing with their summertime travel and vacation plans this year, despite the economy. More than two in five U.S. adults (44%) say the economy does not have any impact on their travel plans, which is a slight increase from 2009 (40%) and a decrease from 2010 (46%).

Just under one in ten (8%) say they will be more likely to travel (up from 6% in 2010) and 36 percent say they will be less likely to travel (same as 2010) because of the economy, Harris reports in a new poll.

It is leisure travel that is getting all the attention this season, Harris notes. Three in five (60%) adults have planned at least one leisure trip through August (down slightly from 65% and 66% in 2009 and 2010, respectively), and 15 percent plan to travel for leisure more than three times this summer. When asked the same about travel plans for business, less than one in five adults (19%) anticipate traveling for business during the summer months, slightly down from 2009 (23%) and the same as in 2010 (19%).

The Harris Poll of 2,634 U.S. adults (ages 18 and over) were surveyed online between May 7 and May 15, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

For those that are not planning to travel this season, it may be due to gas prices, Harris says. Nearly half (47%) of Americans report that current gas prices may impact their likelihood to travel this summer, while only 35 percent shared that it will have no impact on their plans.

Even so, there is a sharp increase in the anticipated travel spend for 2012 (with a mean of $3,136) compared to 2010 (with a mean of $1,627), Harris says. In fact, when accounting for transportation, accommodations, food/beverage and activities, 47 percent expect to spend more than $1,000 in 2012 compared to 34 percent who expected to spend that much in 2010.

Global publicity around the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship in Italy earlier this year has had very little impact on American's likelihood to take another cruise, Harris reports. Among those travelers that have cruised in the past or plan to in the future, two-thirds (65%) shared that they are no more or less likely to cruise again following the accident. In fact, 12% even reported that they are more likely to cruise despite the event in Italy. In total, nearly one-quarter of U.S. adults (23%) plan to take a cruise in the next five years, Harris says.

"While consumers are not necessarily planning on taking more vacations this summer as compared to last, when they do take vacation, they plan on spending more," said Allison Powell, research director at Harris Interactive.

"Despite the uncertainty in the economy, people need their vacation time and this is a good thing for the travel industry. They seem to have changed their marketing strategy to reflect this and, since the numbers have held mostly steady year over year, American travelers are paying attention and responding," Powell said.


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