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WhatAccording to a May 11 member survey conducted by U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA), 57% of respondents reported on-the-books business for 2021 as rescheduled 2020 departures. Meanwhile, about one-third (32%) of next year’s business represents reservations made prior to the outbreak, and 11% encompasses entirely new reservations.
Why It MattersThe travel industry mantra “postpone, don’t cancel” seems to have resonated with a number of consumers who have shifted their travel plans to take place next year. The data reveals that the desire to travel has not waned, and the travel forecast for 2021 continues to show promise. Additionally, 80% of these bookings are to international destinations, while North American destinations — including the U.S., Canada and Mexico — make up the remaining 20%.
USTOA members expect to invest in this projected demand, with roughly 40% anticipating to begin or restart consumer and trade marketing campaigns in the third quarter of 2020. About a quarter of respondents intend to restart consumer (27%) and trade (21%) marketing in the second quarter of this year; 12% plan for a fourth quarter restart; and 18% never stopped their marketing efforts.
Related: Travel Advisors Are Helping Clients Dream of Domestic Destinations
Marketing messaging will look different, however: The topics of health and safety will be most important, alongside an emphasis on the advantages of smaller groups and ship sizes. (According to USTOA, last year’s member survey named small groups/small ships as one of the top three travel trends projected to grow the most over a five-year span.)
Fast Facts- The survey was completed May 11.
- A quarter (26%) of respondents expect to resume operations in Africa by September 2020, while the same number anticipates returning to the region in the first quarter of 2021.
- More than half (54%) of respondents with itineraries to Antarctica expect to resume between November and December 2020.
- About one-fourth (27%) of respondents foresee that operations will restart in Asia in the first quarter of 2021.
- About half (44%) of tour operators with programs to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands anticipate operations to restart in the first quarter of 2021.
- 32% of respondents believe that operations will resume in Canada by September 2020.
- Half (51%) of respondents anticipate resuming operations in Europe between September and October 2020.
- 17% of respondents with programs to Mexico foresee resuming operations in June 2020; another 17% say September 2020; and an additional 17% chose the second quarter of 2021.
- Almost half (44%) of respondents with programs to South America anticipate restarting operations between September and October 2020.
- 30% of respondents foresee domestic operations resuming in September 2020, while 26% of respondents predict they will resume July 2020.
What They Are Saying“While short-term uncertainty remains, the survey of our tour operator members reveals that the desire among consumers for international travel remains promising, especially looking ahead to 2021,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. “Our active members are taking a destination-by-destination approach to resume operations around the globe, with cautious optimism for an anticipated return to business in various regions this fall.”
The DetailsU.S. Tour Operators Associationwww.ustoa.com