A change of president in the US could scupper the growth in American travel to previously taboo destinations such as Cuba, according to the WTM Global Trends Report 2012.
Increasing numbers of US citizens are taking advantage of new policies introduced under the Obama administration, allowing travel to countries which were previously off-limits.
In 2010, North Korea eased travel restrictions on Americans, and in January 2011, President Obama relaxed travel restrictions to Cuba, while restored diplomatic relations with Myanmar in 2012 are set to boost arrivals from the US.
The WTM Global Trends Report 2012 – in association with Euromonitor International – said that the US is expected to continue to see growth in domestic and international demand for travel, despite weak economic recovery.
The report adds that tour operators and travel agencies are likely to create packages to cater for the growing demand for destinations that were once no-go areas.
Also, because of difficult entry requirements and unfamiliarity, such countries provide “great opportunities” for group travel.
However, the report warns: “A great risk remains as rules surrounding American travel to those nations can change quickly and political instability or violence can deter travellers.
“In particular, the rules of American travel to Cuba can vary depending on the US president. If Mitt Romney were elected, it is likely that he would reverse President Obama’s policy.
Reed Travel Exhibitions Chairman World Travel Market, Fiona Jeffery, said: “US travel overseas can help boost business for American travel agents and tour operators but any progress can be lost if politicians back-track on the lifting of sanctions to Cuba, for example.
Caroline Bremner, Euromonitor International Head of Travel and Tourism Research, said: “It’s a small but growing market – and can be lucrative for travel firms involved.
“Most US visitors to previously banned countries are expected to come from the Baby Boomer generation because this market has the time, money and preference for more active and off-the-beaten track holidays.”