For the second consecutive year, the outlook for summer travel continues to brighten with more than three in five U.S. adults (64 percent), or an estimated 154 million Americans, planning on taking at least one trip for leisure purposes during the next six months.
The percentage of Americans planning to travel between May and October is up from 61 percent last April and 56 percent in April 2010, the U.S. Travel Association reports in its analysis of the results of the travelhorizons quarterly report, co-authored by MMGY Global and the U.S. Travel Association. The report is based on a survey of 2,200 U.S. adults taken in April 2012.
"The April travelhorizons results come as welcome news for destinations and travel companies ahead of the summer and fall travel seasons," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "We are seeing a renewed enthusiasm for travel among consumers and barring any dramatic events, we believe that domestic travel will remain on solid footing through the summer travel season."
Business travel is expected to improve slightly in the next six months, compared to the same timeframe as last year, with 17 percent of U.S. adults planning at least one business trip between May and October, a typically slow period for such travel. An encouraging sign that general business activity in the U.S. is on the mend is that business travelers took an average of 6.3 trips in the past twelve months, the highest average number in the past five years.
The overall Traveler Sentiment Index (TSI), which tracks Americans' evolving attitudes toward travel, reached 93.5 in April, nearly ten points higher than April 2011 (March 2007=100). It was also significant that April's TSI remained essentially unchanged from the level of 93.6 in February, bucking the concern and speculation that higher gasoline prices earlier in 2012 would depress travel sentiment, as it did in 2011.
"While a more substantial uptick in the overall Index would signal an even more robust turnaround from the industry's recent malaise, the results of the April survey clearly reveal that travelers have become more confident in their personal financial situation. The forthcoming summer travel season is therefore a wonderful time for travel service suppliers to capitalize on this growing optimism," said Peter Yesawich, vice chairman of MMGY Global.