Underscoring what industry insiders had been hearing consistently in recent months, a new Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) survey confirms the bad news for international travel and the good news on the domestic side of the business.
In a nutshell, a lot of Americans, in light of economic concerns and Mideast turmoil, are planning domestic vacations this summer, according to an online survey of 1,200 Americans.
“We’ll probably set two new records this year,” said William S. Norman, TIA’s president and CEO. “The number of Americans traveling overseas may be at historic lows. And the number of Americans choosing to take a driving vacation within the U.S. may approach all-time highs. There’s reason for cautious optimism when it comes to leisure travel.”
The late March survey, the first of four TIA “War Impact Surveys,” found that 81% of Americans still plan on leisure travel this spring and summer, although 46% had yet to formalize travel plans through advance bookings. The survey, in turn, found that 71% of Americans had no interest in traveling overseas, with 31% citing the war and the weak economy as primary reasons for their aversion to foreign travel.
One significant exception, however, is the strong allure of Canadian travel.
The survey found that the economy, not the war, was the most important factor for domestic leisure travelers deciding to change their travel plans. And it confirmed, again, that travelers this spring are more interested in U.S. travel by auto, RV, or motorcoach, particularly to small towns and rural areas.
These trends have become more prevalent in the past 18 months. In fact, driving trips increased in 2002 to the extent that TIA, in partnership with the Department of Transportation, has created the See America’s Byways program to promote outstanding drives throughout America that celebrate many of the nation’s scenic, cultural and historic attractions.