NEW USTOA MEMBER SURVEYS POINT TO 2021 FOR TRAVEL RECOVERY
NEW YORK (August 25, 2020) – The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) released new findings from surveys of its Tour Operator Active Members and destination management Associate Members about post-COVID 19 plans for recovery and resumption of business. The surveys are a key part of USTOA’s ongoing efforts to support and inform its membership and the industry throughout the coronavirus crisis.
According to the Active Member survey, more than a third (38%) of Active Members have seen an increase in bookings in the last 60 days. Another third (38%) have seen no change in bookings during this timeframe, with the remaining 24% reporting a decrease in bookings.
Said Terry Dale, USTOA president and CEO, “In the Active Member June survey, two-thirds of tour operators reported an increase in bookings, compared to one-third in this recent survey. While it’s heartening that US consumers are still making future travel plans, clearly the momentum has slowed while there is still so much uncertainty in the marketplace and the world.”
As a follow-up, USTOA asked when new passengers are booked to travel, based solely on bookings made in the last 60 days. Active Members reported the following:
Nearly three fourths (73%) of current Active Member traveler bookings are to international destinations, the remaining 27% of traveler bookings are to North America (US, Canada, and Mexico).
USTOA Active Members plan to take a destination-by-destination approach to resuming operations around the world. “Not surprisingly, what we are seeing now across the board is a lot more promise for the first half of 2021 for international travel. On the home front, two thirds of tour operator members with product in the US have started operations or plan to start between now and the end of 2020.”
USTOA asked when Active Members anticipate restarting operations in destinations around the world, the results are as follows:
USTOA asked destination management Associate Members when their destination anticipates opening tourism to North American travelers: Almost half (46%) of the respondents selected “other,” which included a select number of countries that are open now with testing and quarantine restrictions, but a majority noted “too early to determine” (up from 32% in the June survey). According to the same DMO Associate Member survey, roughly 14% anticipate a January 2021 opening for North American tourism, while another 14% expect to open in April 2021 or beyond.
Dale added, “This survey also reflects a sizeable change in the expectation of a September 2020 re-opening for North American travelers according to our destination members. In June, 17% of DMO respondents anticipated re-opening to North America next month, now that number has decreased to 5%. Which reflects how rapidly COVID conditions around the world change, too.”
Product Types and Group Size
DMOs named FIT as the tourism product they believe will come back the soonest and strongest as their destination begins to reopen to tourism. Small groups (less than 20 passengers) was ranked second, nature/adventure in third, followed by luxury, medium groups (20-50 passengers), large groups (50+ passengers), and river cruises. Ocean cruises was ranked to come back last.
When asked what group size limitations may be in place once tourism from North America is open, more than a third of USTOA DMO Associate Members selected it was “too early to determine” for both coaches (38%) and gatherings (37%). For coaches, 16% responded that size limitations may be up to 20 people maximum, while 9% noted potential group size limitations of up to 50 people, and 8% selected up to 10 people. Roughly 5% responded that coach limitation could be set at up to 15 people, while another 5% selected a limitation of up to 100 people. Only 2% selected coach size limitations of up to five people maximum. The remaining 19% selected “other.”
When it comes to health and safety practices, an overwhelming 91% of DMOs say they will use their own governments’ health and hygiene protocol. More than half (57%) reported that they will rely on UNWTO/WHO guidelines, while 31% noted that other health organizations guidelines will be utilized.
The Active Member survey was completed on August 14, with a 64% response rate of Active Member brands. The destination management survey was completed on August 19, with a 49% response rate of DMO Associate Members.
For more information on USTOA, visit www.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.
Gina Dolecki/Ashley Mindnich
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