Trend Watch: August 2, 2010

Americans' Overseas Travel and Spending Down

The overall U.S. outbound market totaled 61.5 million travelers in 2009, down 3 percent from 2008. Travel to overseas regions declined 2 percent, while travel to Mexico and Canada dropped 4 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Spending by U.S. residents traveling abroad totaled $99.2 billion, down 12 percent from 2008. Spending within foreign countries (travel payments) amounted to $73.2 billion, down 8 percent, and spending on air transportation, via foreign air carriers, totaled $26 billion in 2009, down 20 percent. Top countries for U.S. spending included Mexico ($9.6 billion), the UK ($7.8 billion), Canada ($6.2 billion), Japan ($4.8 billion) and Germany ($4.6 billion).


Friends and Family Top Vacation Goal

Six out of 10 Americans plan to vacation 100 miles or more away from home during 2010, according to results of a consumer survey commissioned by the U.S. Tour Operators Association. Of those, an average 45 percent said they would travel in the shoulder or off-season to save money, reflecting the still tentative economy.

For 60 percent, the major goal will be spending time with friends or family, followed by relaxation and seeing new sites. In 2009, affordability ranked first and time with family second.

People are planning a vacation closer in, however. Most (58 percent) said they will make their travel plans six months or less in advance, with an average 32 percent planning within three months, slightly up compared with 2009, when 25 percent said they would plan within three months of departure.

Notably, the survey says over 80 percent of respondents plan to book vacations on their own, a slight increase from 2009 and 2008, when approximately 75 percent of Americans said they like to make all their travel arrangements themselves.

Trimmed-Down Travel Is On

Most travel survey respondents will spend more than four days on vacation—75 percent of those surveyed by Persuadable Research Corp. The budget for 32 percent travelers is likely to be in the range of $500-$1,500. Also, one-fifth have a budget of less than $500 and one-fourth are in the $1,501-$2,500 range. The budgeted amount for vacations has been reduced for almost 46 percent of travelers, and it’s about the same for 42 percent when compared to the past two years. Budget and economy hotels were favorites for this summer’s travel (24 percent), while a little less than a quarter of respondents plan to stay in all-inclusive resorts or four- or five-star hotels. Three out of 10 will stay with friends or family.

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