U.S. Summer Leisure Travel Outlook Remarkably Stable in Down Economy
Research Shows Americans' Travel Intentions, Spending Expectations Same or Better than Last Year
Source: U.S. Travel Association
The April 2009 travelhorizonsTM survey by the U.S. Travel Association and Ypartnership, a critical component of the summer travel forecast, shows that an estimated 54 percent of American households are planning to take at least one leisure trip this summer, compared to 50 percent at the same time last year. While Americans are still watching their travel budgets and other discretionary spending, more than half (51 percent) of these leisure travel planners expect to spend the same amount on their summer vacations this year.
"Consumer spending intentions for this summer are consistent with the patterns we have observed in earlier travelhorizonsTM and other recent survey work," said Peter C. Yesawich, chairman of Ypartnership. "Americans continue to shop aggressively for value pricing when purchasing travel services."
The travelhorizonsTM survey also revealed:
- Six out of ten (57 percent) intended leisure travelers expect to spend the same number of nights away from home this summer compared to last. Slightly more (22 percent) travelers expect to spend "more" nights away from home this summer than "fewer" nights (20 percent).
- Americans plan to take more day trips or long weekend getaways in lieu of week-long vacations. On a positive note for travelers, according to the U.S. Travel Association's Travel Price Index, the cost of lodging and airfares is down by 6.8 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively, through the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.
- Travel deals may entice Americans to travel, especially at the last minute. And the market of "undecided" leisure travelers looms large: an estimated 38 million U.S. adults have not yet decided whether or not they will take a leisure trip this summer through early fall.
- These Americans are waiting to see if the economy and their personal finances improve in the coming months. TravelhorizonsTM reveals that 45 percent of travelers will plan their trip and 39 percent will book it within two months of departure.Consumers are seeking out packages to book and comparison shopping, especially online, to save money.
- While gas prices were the primary deterrent to travel last summer – hitting an all time high of $4.11 for a gallon of unleaded regular – gas prices should be less of an issue this summer as they are expected to hover just over $2 per gallon.
While the domestic leisure travel market has been fairly resilient, a more concerning trend is the expected 9 percent decline in international travel to the United States for full-year 2009, including a 7 percent decline in overseas travel. Because international travelers spend more money, averaging $4,500 per trip to the U.S., increasing travel to the United States is the most efficient form of economic stimulus.
A nationally coordinated travel promotion campaign would save U.S. jobs and kick-start economic recovery. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and John Ensign (R-NV) yesterday introduced the "Travel Promotion Act of 2009" (S. 1023) and a similar bill is expected to be introduced soon in the House of Representatives. This legislation can stimulate U.S. economic growth, create thousands of new American jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue for communities across the country.
travelhorizonsTM is a quarterly online survey of U.S. adults age 18+ conducted on behalf of U.S. Travel and Ypartnership by Synovate. Responses were received from 2,250 U.S. adults surveyed between April 21 - 30, 2009
The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $770 billion travel industry. U.S. Travel's mission is to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States. For more information, visit .
Ypartnership is a worldwide advertising and public relations agency that specializes in serving travel, leisure and entertainment-industry clients and is co-author of the widely acclaimed National Travel MONITORSM with Yankelovich, Inc. For more information, visit www.ypartnership.com.