A new study on summer travel reveals that many Americans vacationed at family-oriented destinations this season and stayed closer to home, mostly going to locations within the U.S., Mexico or the Caribbean.
, a leader in online travel agent marketing, conducted the survey among its network of member agents, finding a sharp decrease in air travel and travel outside of North America in general.
“This survey shows conclusive patterns in travel behavior, with an emerging emphasis on trips geared toward family travel. In fact, we saw an increase in family reunions and group travel with extended family member,” said David Feit, CEO for Travants. “Our agents also identified an overwhelming trend for American travelers to stay within North America. The benefactors from this trend appear to be U.S. destinations, such as Orlando, Las Vegas and Hawaii, as well as Mexico and popular Caribbean resorts.”
The agents were asked to identify the three most popular travel destinations. A large majority identified the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean as the three definitive hot spots for this summer, with other regions of the world barely registering on the survey. More than 84 percent listed domestic travel within the U.S., with more than 60 percent ranking it as the very top travel destination overall. Mexico proved the second most popular travel spot with a 70 percent agent ranking. Caribbean tourism rounded out the top three spots with 56 percent of the agents. No other region worldwide garnered a significant percentage of the responses.
Overall Travel Down, Activity-Based Travel Up
Travel in general was down for agents compared to last summer. Two-thirds of the respondents reported lower or much lower bookings this summer. Air travel was down according to 75 percent of the agents, although cruises and travel by car were up significantly. Nearly every agent polled noted a considerable decrease in tourism to Europe and locations near the Middle East.
Activities seemed to fuel travel decisions this summer, greatly helping some destinations attract a larger share of visitors. In addition to the trend for child-friendly locations for family vacations, beach access and water activities were the most requested activity. This helped locations such as Cancun, Mexico, Jamaica and Hawaii score high marks in the survey. Orlando, Florida also ranked high among the agents as a prime vacation spot.
Other popular activities identified by Travants agents include cruises, adventure travel and ecotours, golfing, hiking, scuba and snorkeling. Safety remained the top concern this summer season and is believed to have led to the large decrease in air travel. Many agents noted a slow but steady rebound, with several agents predicting a stronger 2003 season based on pent up demand.