Where To Go In 2020: US Tour Operators Reveal Top Travel Trends For 2020

Eric2018-Ven-Tri-Ist Bike_083118_1480e2(c) Karen Rubin-Porec.jpg

Arriving in Porec, Croatia, the end-point of Biketours.com’s 8-day self-guided bike tour that started in Venice, Italy. US tour operators see Croatia as a top emerging destination; Italy as the most popular destination for 2020 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) released results of its annual travel trend and forecast survey of the association’s active tour operator members naming Italy the most popular destination for travelers in 2020.

The top five “hot” destinations for next year also included France, which ranked second; followed by Spain, Greece and the United Kingdom (tied for third); Ireland and Japan (tied for fourth), Germany tying South Africa for fifth.

“Europe has a very strong presence, which we saw in last year’s survey reinforcing continued interest and growth in European travel among US consumers, driven by both more product and more demand,” cited Terry Dale, President and CEO of USTOA.

USTOA tour operator members also identified their top five off-the-beaten path or emerging destinations that they see gaining popularity in 2020: Egypt, Croatia and Colombia tied for first. “Egypt topping the list is the epitome of a destination comeback story,” added Dale. “It reinforces a strong return in popularity and demand among travelers, after several challenging years.”  Making the list for the first time, Slovenia was named second, followed by Thailand, Vietnam, and Morocco and Ethiopia (tied for fifth).

On the domestic front, USTOA members forecast California as the most popular U.S. destination for clients in 2020. New York came in second, with Florida and Nevada tied for third, followed by Arizona, and Alaska and Hawaii (tied for fifth).

Arts and culture was cited by survey participants as the top travel category driving sales in 2019, wildlife and nature followed in a close second.  Local immersion, small groups/small ships and uncharted destinations were named by Active Members as the top three travel trends projected to grow the most over the next five years.

Members were also asked to name the destinations/sites that travelers should see now, with some sense of urgency before overcrowding, climate change or other factors impact the experience.

Antarctica was named first, followed by Machu Picchu in Peru, and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Venice, Italy (tied for third).

Who is Traveling?

Just shy of two thirds (60%) of members’ customer base are 51 years of age and older. The next largest age group is 35 to 50 years old, representing 20% of customers. Almost half (44%) of members named multigenerational family as their top growing passenger category in 2019.

Growth Ahead

Roughly 82% of USTOA tour operator members anticipate growth in sales for the year ending in 2020 with nearly half (45%) “optimistic” and forecasting a “boom year” with growth anywhere from seven to 10% or higher.

“Member confidence levels for the year ahead are high with roughly three quarters of our tour operator members ‘confident’ or ‘highly confident’ that revenues will increase in the coming year,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO for USTOA.  “This is particularly encouraging especially as we approach a election year, when, historically, consumer spending is more conservative.”

“In fact, when asked about potential threats to traveler confidence in the year ahead, the presidential election year topped the list,” Dale continued. Recession was named the second global risk that could impact potential growth in 2020, followed by global financial instability in third.

Research from the new member survey was revealed at USTOA’s Annual Conference & Marketplace, December 2 to December 6 at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate in Orlando, FL.

For more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com, call 212-599-6599, or email information@ustoa.com.

Representing nearly $19 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow 9.8 million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.  As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents.

 

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