Americans are expected to spend more money for longer vacations
both in the U.S. and overseas next year, according to the American
Express Leisure Travel Index released last week.
On average, travelers are expected to spend $2,962 in 2004 on
airfare, accommodations, sightseeing, meals, souvenirs and other
expenses for their vacations, up from the $2,163 average
respondents said they planned to spend in 2003.
And the number of travelers expected to spend more than $5,000
(6 percent) will nearly double to 11 percent, the index
The data for the index is collected by a phone survey, which
this year included 1,356 adults in late September.
The survey also looked at travel trends in the West and found 34
percent of travelers said they plan to take a leisure trip before
the end of this year. Westerners, on average, also said they are
planning to take three extended vacations more than residents in
any other region.
Western travelers plan to spend $2,990 on average on long
pleasure trips next year, up from $2,581 that they said they would
spend this year.
Nearly 40 percent said they plan to stay in the U.S. for their
travel, 10 percent said they will travel internationally, and 49
percent said they planned to do both.
Overall, in all regions, about half of those surveyed who plan
to travel by plane next year said they will travel both
domestically and internationally, an increase from the 36 percent
with such plans in 2002.
While spending is expected to increase, 78 percent of
respondents still described themselves as “value minded, seeking
good quality within a budget,” even in higher income
Nearly half of respondents said they use the Internet as a
travel resource (45 percent up from 35 percent in 2002), followed
by friends and family (33 percent up from 30 percent in 2002),
travel agents (25 percent up from 15 percent), travel magazines (10
percent up from 9 percent), tour operators (6 percent on par with
But for booking, non-Internet sources are preferred, with 37
percent saying they would buy directly from airlines, hotel, car
rentals and cruise lines by phone.
Still, nearly one-third (30 percent, up from 23 percent in 2002)
said they would use a travel agent, but online agencies also
increased in popularity (29 percent up from 20 percent), followed
by supplier Websites (27 percent up from 18) and tour operators (4
percent, down from 5 percent).
Meanwhile, Hawaii is expected to take the lead as the most
popular holiday destination next year, according to a survey of
American Express travel counselors released last week.
Of the 114 agents surveyed, 35 percent picked Honolulu as the
No. 1 holiday destination, followed by Orlando, New York City, Las
Vegas and Miami.
Internationally, Mexico Cancun in particular emerged as a
popular international destination for the holidays, followed by
Rome, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and London.
“Hawaii made a strong showing in 2003 and will gain even more
momentum in 2004 with the addition of seven-day cruises in the
Hawaiian marketplace,” said Cynthia Valles, senior vice president
and general manager of American Express U.S. Consumer Travel
“Rome has always been a popular destination for Americans, but
now we are seeing Americans venture into other cities and regions
in Italy, and we expect that trend to continue in the coming year,”
she said. “Mexico is a great getaway destination and Cancun
continues to differentiate itself with upscale properties and a
variety of activities. Greece and Athens will also be popular
Other up-and-coming destinations forecast for next year include
Florida, California and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.