Another sign of the travel industry’s continued recovery is the sharp increase in the Travel Industry Association of America’s (TIA) Traveler Sentiment Index for the first quarter of 2004. The overall index now stands at 102.2, a nearly 9 percent increase over last quarter. The jump is primarily attributed to travelers’ more positive feelings about having enough money and time to take pleasure trips. Also, travelers currently feel that travel is more affordable than it was a year ago. TIA’s Traveler Sentiment Index was conducted January 22 to February 1, 2004.
“Americans’ positive perceptions of the affordability of travel and the fact they feel they have enough money and time to travel are all positive signs as the industry continues its recovery,” remarked William S. Norman, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America.
Among the five index components, there were double digit increases in consumer perceptions about the ability to travel based on personal finances (+20.5%) and the ability to travel based on their free time (+19.8%). Those indices now stand at 93.4 and 102.3, respectively. Travelers were also very positive about the affordability of travel right now, with that index increasing 8.4 percent to 118.3. General interest in taking pleasure or vacation trips rose 5.5 percent to 100.6.
Due to industry concerns about the threat of terrorism, TIA began to measure consumer perceptions about travel safety starting with the fourth quarter 2001 (October) survey. While travel safety is not a component of the Traveler Sentiment Index, it can be indexed by itself against the baseline of fourth quarter 2001. This quarter, the travel safety index is at 131.1, stable from last quarter and at a continued all-time high.
When the overall Traveler Sentiment Index is examined on a regional basis, all four census regions showed gains over last quarter. The Northeast posted the highest gain, increasing 14.4 percent.