Survey: Stock Market Drives Travel Plans

Terrorism abroad and overall economic conditions round out top 3 client concerns when considering travel

By: TravelAge West staff

Travel agents in the West believe the stock market, not the potential of war with Iraq, has the strongest negative effect on their clients’ interest in travel right now.

A TravelAge West survey, conducted online Nov. 4-8, found that 63 percent of the 301 respondents consider the market to be their customers’ greatest concern when considering travel. Terrorism abroad was cited by 62 percent, closely followed by overall economic conditions at 61 percent.

“We have been hit hard economically since this is a high-tech area. I still think that is a big factor for us,” said Sharon Wright, a travel consultant with World Wide Travel in Austin, Texas.

Just half the respondents 50 percent said the possibility of U.S. action against Iraq has been a travel deterrent.

But should the United States go to war with Iraq, a full 95 percent of the respondents believe their clients will take fewer international trips.

Some agents, however, are more optimistic. Kathy Hayes-Stephan, president of in Lake Forest, Calif., said her clients are booking holiday trips as well as exotic trips for the end of 2003.

“We have not had any cancellations or any feedback that they are concerned at this point in time,” she said.

Wright noted that Texans are usually late bookers, “so it is hard to say if the Europe market is going to be slow due to the threat of war in Iraq.”

Among those who expect a downturn in foreign trips, 73 percent of the agents said they expect clients to take more drive vacations; 62 percent anticipate more weekend getaways, and 50 percent expect more trips within the United States.

Las Vegas might be the big winner, with 60 percent of the respondents saying they expect customers to visit the Strip more often in the event of war. Alaska was close behind at 56 percent and Hawaii, 54 percent.

As for the agents’ wartime recommendations, 62 percent said they would suggest Hawaii vacations more often; 52 percent, Alaska and 46 percent, Mexico. Hawaii currently leads the “most recommended destination” list among agents, with a full 78 percent of the respondents saying they suggest it “always” or “very frequently.”

Mexico draws the same recommendations from 67 percent of the agents; Alaska, 58 percent, and the Caribbean, 52 percent.