USTOA, MMGY: Americans Show No Signs of Slowing International Travel

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Americans want to travel more this year than they did in 2019—that’s according to the 2020 Portrait of the American International Traveler Survey, a joint study conducted by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) and MMGY Global. The survey is intended to capture the underlying motivations and future intentions that influence travelers’ behavior. According to the survey, the outlook for 2020 is promising with American international travelers intending to take 2.2 international vacations in the next 12 months and 37 percent wanting to travel more this year than last.

Among the many insights revealed in the survey were key travel motivators, USTOA and MMGY Global found that the top motives for travel were the desire to experience different cultures (92 percent), exploration and adventure (89 percent) and a hunger to experience new cuisines (83 percent). Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they prefer to focus on making memories over acquiring more things.

“The results are extremely encouraging for both our membership, as well as the travel industry as a whole,” added Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. “Not only are American travelers not slowing down, but cultural curiosity and exploration are driving them to travel deeper and connect more personally to the destinations they visit.”  

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Additional findings include:

  • Group tours are most popular with affluent Millennials, with 69 percent reporting they are likely to vacation as part of a multi-day organized group tour in the next two years and 57 percent saying they vacationed on a multi-day, organized group tour in the last 12 months
  • Affluent Millennials are the most likely demographic to have used a travel advisor to book a vacation, with 59 percent saying they had used one to book an international vacation in the last 12 months
  • Europe remains the top destination American international travelers want to visit by an overwhelming majority (72 percent); however, 41 percent of travelers agreed that they avoid visiting popular destinations, opening the door to more off-the-beaten-path vacations
  • Social media’s influence is growing, as the number of respondents who said they follow a destination on social media rose from 29 percent to 38 percent between 2018 and 2019

The Portrait of American International Travelers Survey profiled 2,026 affluent American travelers (defined by an annual household income of over $100,000), who have current passports, who are qualified to have traveled outside of North America in the past two years and intend to travel outside of North America in the next two years. It’s a group that feels their identity is closely intertwined with travel, with 64 percent reporting they believe the destinations they visit say a lot about who they are. 

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