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Positive Outlook for 2017

Written by  Douglas Cooke

One of the highlights of USTOA’s (United States Tour Operator Association) annual conference, held this year Dec.7-10 in Scottsdale, AZ, is the release of the annual Travel Trends Survey done by PriceWaterhouseCooper. Over 88% of USTOA’s active tour operator members participated in the 2016 edition.

2016 Was Good, 2017 Looking Better
By all indications, 2016 was a good year for USTOA members with a total growth of about 4% in tour package sales, resulting in almost $15 billion in sales. According to Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA, “Our active members cited further optimism for the year ahead with 82% anticipating growth in sales in 2017. In addition, active members projected that 62% of total packages sold in 2016 were through travel agencies, reinforcing the significant contribution travel agents make to our members’ businesses,” Dale added. Indicating further confidence for 2017, the survey revealed that almost half (44%) of the members who anticipate an increase in sales next year forecast “optimistic” to “boom year” growth, with sales ranging from 7-10% or more. Slightly more than a third (38%) of members who anticipate growth remain cautiously optimistic that sales will increase 4-6% in 2017.

Top Destinations and Trends for 2017
Cuba was named the most popular destination for 2017. The top 10 “hot” destinations for next year also include Italy, which ranked second, followed by Iceland, United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, China and Vietnam.
Active members identified the top 10 off-the-beaten path or emerging destinations that they see gaining popularity in 2017: Cuba ranked first, Iceland ranked second, followed by Croatia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Myanmar, Iran, Africa (South Africa and Morocco), Cambodia and India.
Leading international destinations in 2016 according to volume of sales were Mexico, Italy, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, Aruba, Saint Lucia, Bahamas, Costa Rica and France. The top 10 U.S. destinations for 2016 were Hawaii, District of Columbia, Nevada, Florida, New York, California, Arizona, Colorado, Alaska and U.S. Virgin Islands.
Tour operator members of USTOA offer a variety of culturally immersive, experiential and themed programs for travelers. Family/multi-generational programs are offered by a majority (81%) of tour operator members, with three fourths (77%) providing honeymoon/romance experiences. Around half of the active members offer the following categories: adventure (55%), art and culture (53%), culinary (49%) and safari/nature (49%).

Traveler Profile
When asked who’s traveling, members responded that about half their customers are 51 years of age and older. The next largest group was 36 to 50, representing 24%. Gender is split evenly (50/50) among male and female passengers. Two thirds of business booked was by US residents traveling internationally, with 20% by US customers traveling domestically. 212-599-6599, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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