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WhatUnited States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) shared the results of a survey of 94 member brands including escorted/guided tour operators (69%), FIT operators (52%), custom packagers (48%), cruises (40%) and student travel (19%). More than one-third (38%) of active members are reporting an increase in bookings in the last 60 days, while the same number of members have seen no change in bookings. A quarter (24%) of members are reporting a decrease in bookings, which shows an overall “decline in momentum of new bookings,” according to USTOA. Back in June, 64% of active members were reporting an increase in bookings.
Three-fourths of members say that these new bookings are for travel in the second and third quarters of 2021, while only 10% of members have bookings for travel in the third quarter of 2020. Nearly one-third (31%) of members have new bookings for 2022.
Why It Matters Passenger bookings reveal when consumers feel that it will be safe for travel to resume — especially regarding international travel, which makes up about three-fourths (73%) of these new bookings. Based on the figures, travelers feel less confident in the prospect of 2020 international travel, and are looking to the second and third quarters of 2021 for a travel comeback. Advisors should mirror these figures and focus on booking international travel for these times.
Fast Facts- Nineteen percent of members say that they have new passenger bookings scheduled for travel in the fourth quarter of 2020, while 33% report that they have received bookings for the first quarter of 2021.
- USTOA also surveyed destination management organization (DMOs) members on when their destination anticipates opening tourism to North American travelers. Almost half (46%) of the respondents selected “other,” which included a select number of countries that are open now with testing and quarantine restrictions, but a majority noted “too early to determine” (up from 32% in a June survey).
- According to the same DMO survey, roughly 14% anticipate a January 2021 opening for North American tourism, while another 14% expect the continent to open for travel in April 2021 or later.
- DMOs named FIT as the tourism product they believe will come back the soonest and strongest as their destination begins to reopen to tourism.
- Small groups (fewer than 20 passengers) was ranked second, followed by nature/adventure, luxury, medium groups (20-50 passengers), large groups (more than 50 passengers) and river cruises. Ocean cruises was ranked to come back last.
What They Are Saying“In the active member June survey, two-thirds of tour operators reported an increase in bookings, compared to one-third in this recent survey,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. “While it’s heartening that U.S. consumers are still making future travel plans, clearly the momentum has slowed while there is still so much uncertainty in the marketplace and the world. This survey also reflects a sizeable change in the expectation of a September 2020 re-opening for North American travelers, according to our destination members. In June, 17% of DMO respondents anticipated re-opening to North America next month, and now that number has decreased to 5%. Which reflects how rapidly COVID-19 conditions around the world change, too.”
The DetailsUnited States Tour Operators Associationwww.ustoa.com