Press Releases

New USTOA Tour Operator Member Survey Reveals 2022 Travel Forecast

Published Dec 16, 2021 12:00AM


NEW USTOA TOUR OPERATOR MEMBER SURVEY REVEALS 2022 TRAVEL FORECAST
 
Nine Out of Ten USTOA Active Members Anticipate Growth in Sales in 2022   

 

NEW YORK (December 8, 2021) – The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) released the findings from an annual survey of its tour operator Active Members at the 2022 USTOA Annual Conference and Marketplace in San Diego, December 7-10. The survey focused on current trends, key issues, and factors impacting the tour operator industry today including COVID-19 pandemic business recovery.

According to the survey, which was conducted in early November with an 86% response rate of USTOA Active Members, nine out of ten members (93%) anticipate growth in sales in 2022. Two thirds (65%) of those respondents are “optimistic” and forecasting a “boom year” with growth anywhere from 7% to 10% and higher.

When asked about their company’s outlook on when the travel industry will see a full recovery of business, half (53%) said by end of 2023, while 20% responded end of 2022. Another 20% of members foresee a full recovery of business by end of 2024. The remaining 7% reported recovery by 2025 and beyond.

Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA said, “While this year’s survey reveals more confidence moving into 2022, our members are not blind to the challenges that lay ahead on the road to recovery.” 

He continued, “We asked members to name the biggest challenge or obstacle to operating in 2022 and border closing confusion across countries/states topped the list, followed by customer confidence to travel.” Coordination of protocols across states/borders/suppliers ranked third, followed by threat of quarantine, news media cycle, COVID-19 vaccine mandates, flight connectivity, insecurity about suppliers (closure of hotels and others, inconsistent pricing, etc.), staffing/hiring, and COVID-19 travel insurance. 

Passenger Booking Patterns

USTOA Active Members report that 59% of existing bookings for 2022 are new bookings and 41% are rebooked passengers from cancelled trips in 2020/2021. Three fourths (75%) of 2022 Active Member existing bookings are to international destinations, the remaining quarter are to North America destinations (US, Canada, and Mexico). 

Roughly a third (36%) of responding tour operators reported that consumers are booking within four to six months of departure. A quarter (24%) report bookings being made within seven to 12 months of departure, while another quarter (27%) report no discernible pattern. Roughly 11% say travelers are booking with up to three months of departure, while the remaining 2% report mostly seeing customers booking more than a year in advance.

The majority (91%) of tour operator members report being confident or highly confident that guest bookings will increase in 2022.

Travel Advisors

Reinforcing the significant contribution travel advisors make overall to USTOA members’ businesses:

  • 87% of responding members plan to utilize travel advisors to generate sales as they continue to resume business in 2022.
  • Three fourths (76%) of members report that travel advisors will play very important or important role in their business in 2022.
  • Nearly nine out of ten (89%) of members expect business booked by travel advisors to increase or maintain the same in 2022.

Trends and Forecasts

When asked about the top three international destinations travelers are booking for 2022, Europe continued to have a strong presence. Italy topped the list, followed by France and Greece tied in second, and Ireland ranked third. Dale added, “Italy continues to top the list, year after year, despite any current challenges the industry is facing.” 

On the home front, Active Members report that travelers are gravitating towards locations with wide-open spaces. National Parks were named the top domestic destination for 2022. “This question is traditionally asked as a write in response, and there was an overwhelming number of members who named National Parks as the top choice, across multiple states,” Dale continued. Alaska followed in second, with Hawaii in third.

Based on existing customer bookings, Active Members chose small group tours as the most popular travel product for 2022. FIT ranked second, followed by private groups, classic group tours (25+ passengers), river cruising, and small ship cruising. Ocean cruising (medium to large ship) rounded out the list.

Similar to last year’s annual survey, tour operator members believe safety and wellness will have the strongest influence on consumers when choosing a travel destination in 2022. Border reopening/government travel restrictions will have the second strongest influence on travel destination decisions, followed by value, distance/ease of travel to and from destination, state department travel alerts, and outdoor components. Sustainable tourism practices were named as having the least influence.

“It is not surprising that pandemics or other health crises were named as the number one potential threat to consumer confidence for the second year in a row,” said Dale. Global financial instability was named the second global risk that could impact consumer confidence in 2022, followed by recession.

Sustainable Travel

When USTOA asked Active Members about trends that will have the most impact on travel over the next ten years, sustainable or responsible travel topped the list. “Sustainability is a critical, global issue, and our members recognize how important responsible travel practices are to building a viable, long-lasting future for tourism. In 2022, USTOA celebrates its 50th anniversary and this milestone represents an opportunity for our industry to look at everything we do through a sustainable tourism lens, especially as we look towards the next 50 years.”   

More than half (56%) of responding Active Members have formal policies, procedures, and metrics to measure social and/or environmental impacts of services. Roughly a quarter (22%) of our tour operator membership say sustainability is “important” to their customers while another two thirds (62%) report it is “somewhat important.”

Identifying opportunities was named the biggest concern or challenge faced by USTOA tour operator companies when evolving current or creating sustainable or responsible travel practices.  Implementation of practices ranked second, followed by customer willingness to accept cost or impact on itinerary, recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, measurement of effectiveness, education/training to ensure compliance, senior staff acceptance, and employee acceptance.

This survey was completed on November 10, 2021. Tour operators responding represent the following travel services: escorted/guided tours 73%; FIT packages 60%; custom packages 56%; student travel 13%; and cruises 40%. For more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com

About USTOA: 

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.

 

Contact:

Gina Dolecki/Ashley Mindnich                                         

Redpoint

212-229-0119

dolecki@redpointspeaks.com /mindnich@redpointspeaks.com    

 

###


SHARE THIS

Latest USTOA Blog Posts


Debunking Common Myths about Guided Vacations
Debunking Common Myths about Guided Vacations By Lisa Sands, Director of Marketing, CIE Tours As it relates to fast-paced journeys through Europe, you’ve likely heard the phrase “if it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium!”.  A 1969 movie by that name exaggerated the experiences people had in the early days of motorcoach touring; and although the… Read More
Windstar Celebrates 35th Anniversary of Polynesian Cruises
Windstar Celebrates 35th Anniversary of Polynesian Cruises By: Carolyn Spencer Brown Christopher Prelog has been to French Polynesia many times and one thing stays true for him on every visit. “There is a state of mind about Polynesia that blends natural beauty, a sense of grace and peace and, importantly, the energy of the people.”… Read More
Regenerating The Red Sea
Regenerating The Red Sea Located on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea is evolving as a year-round destination with a key focus on regeneration through sustainable practices that include 100% commitment to renewable energy, modern technology to provide personalized digital services, and immersive experiences for a “true Arabian” adventure.   The Red Sea… Read More
USTOA $1 Million
Travelers Assistance Program

A travel vacation should not only be an unforgettable experience, but offer solid peace of mind. That’s why USTOA created a consumer protection fund which protects consumers who book with our Active Members.

Learn More

Our website is set to allow the use of cookies — for more information click here. If you consent to cookies please click "Proceed" or simply continue browsing