Europe is the top travel destination for 2008/2009, followed by Mexico and the Caribbean, according to the first edition of the new ALTOUR Travel Index. The survey of travel trends among travel professionals revealed that as much as the U.S. dollar may be weak overseas, 68 percent of respondents said Europe has the highest demand among their clients in the year to come. Mexico followed with 57 percent of respondents selecting it as the top destination, and 50 percent selecting the Caribbean. The continental U.S., South America, and Hawaii tied for for fourth place at 43 percent.
Meanwhile, the survey also revealed that confidence in the state of the travel industry remains high, with 57 percent of respondents remaining optimistic, 32 percent sitting “somewhat in the middle,” and only 7 percent reporting a pessimistic outlook. Another pleasant statistic revealed that the overwhelming majority of ALTOUR’s clientele is booking well in advance— 30 to 90 days ahead for 57 percent of respondents and as much as 90 to 180 days for another 32 percent— and that deposit cancellations have been infrequent for 82 percent of the respondents.
“Our customers don’t foresee a dramatic change in the dollar in the short term, so they’re of the mind to just go ahead with their travel plans, although they might select a more modest room in their upscale hotel, or look for a guaranteed dollar rate,” said ALTOUR’s founder, Alexandre Chemla.
The majority of leisure travel categories (i.e cruises, all-inclusive, sun/sand/surf packages, and FIT) remain stable, while escorted tours, according to 50 percent of respondents, is report lower in demand for 2009 compared to previous years.