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What Does the American Traveler Want? More Travel

New survey says demand for travel shows no signs of slowing down

The 2020 Portrait of the American International Traveler Survey – a partnership this year between the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA) and integrated marketing agency MMGY Global – sees a healthy appetite for travel among Americans and notes the hunger is not showing signs of dissipating any time soon.

According to the latest survey released last week, the outlook for 2020 is promising with American international travelers intending to take 2.2 international vacations in the next 12 months, and most notably, 37 percent of those surveyed are saying they want to travel more this year than they did last year.

The Portrait of American International Travelers Survey™ profiled 2,026 affluent American travelers with an annual household income of over $100,000, who have current passports, who are qualified to have traveled outside of North America in the past two years and intend to travel outside of North America in the next two years. It’s a group that feels their identity is closely intertwined with travel, with 64 percent reporting they believe the destinations they visit say a lot about who they are.

Among the many insights revealed in the survey were key travel motivators:

• The top motives for travel were to experience different cultures (92 percent), exploration and adventure (89 percent), and a hunger to experience new cuisines (83 percent).

• 87 percent of respondents said they prefer to focus on making memories over acquiring more things

“The results are extremely encouraging for both our membership, as well as the travel industry as a whole,” added Terry Dale, President and CEO of USTOA. “Not only are American travelers not slowing down, but cultural curiosity and exploration are driving them to travel deeper and connect more personally to the destinations they visit.”  

Additional findings include:

•  Group tours are most popular with affluent Millennials, with 69 percent reporting they are likely to vacation as part of a multi-day organized group tour in the next two years and 57 percent saying they vacationed on a multi-day, organized group tour in the last 12 months.  

•  Affluent Millennials are the most likely demographic to have used a travel agent to book a vacation, with 59 percent saying they had used a travel agent to book an international vacation in the last 12 months.

•  Europe remains the top destination American international travelers want to visit by an overwhelming majority (72 percent). However, 41 percent of travelers agreed that they avoid visiting popular destinations, opening the door to more off-the-beaten-path vacations.

•  Social media’s influence is growing. The number of respondents who said they follow a destination on social media rose from 29 percent to 38 percent between 2018 and 2019.