American Society of Travel Advisors’ (ASTA) latest research highlights the health of the overall economy compared to the travel economy and revealed that the traveler and the travel advisor share mixed views of how the economy will fare in 2020.
The organization released the preliminary findings from its annual study, “How America Travels,” sponsored by Carnival Corporation & plc. The wide-ranging study includes insights into the travel economy, including perceptions of destination safety and travel spending.
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The economy is definitely top of mind for consumers and travel advisors. Although 32 percent of travel advisors feel the overall economy will be better in 12 months than it is now, 20 percent feel it will be worse.
Travelers are more positive about the economy, with 41 percent believing that the economy will be better in the next 12 months. however, a sizeable portion, 21 percent, feel the economy will be worse.
While there is uncertainty about the overall economy, travel advisors feel that their businesses are sufficiently insulated against a downturn. Only 7 percent of travel advisors feel their business is going to be worse off next year, and 50 percent think their business is going to be better.
“Despite concerns on the horizon both travelers and travel advisors remain bullish in their economic outlook,” said Zane Kerby, [resident and CEO of ASTA. “Reflecting travelers’ optimism for the future, more people (81 percent) anticipate traveling in the next 12 months than actually did so last year. Combine this with the fact that advisors are also expecting better returns next year…there is good news in this study for everyone.”
The traveler data backs this up. Travelers who plan to use a travel advisor anticipate taking more trips in 2020, on average, than those who do not plan to use one (3.6 vs. 2.5 trips). Travelers are also spending more. ASTA found that those who have previously used an advisor reported spending more on their last trip than those who didn’t ($3,505).
Travelers also expect to spend more on their next vacation than they did one the last one. The total amount of anticipated spend per traveler is an estimated $6,772, a 10 percent increase over the past 12 months.
“The timing of this study provides us a unique snapshot during a critical crossroads in our U.S. economy. The future outlook of our overall economy remains in question–for both the advisor and the traveler, and rightly so. This is a time in our history where, more than ever, the future is uncertain,” said Kerby.
“But when it comes to leisure travel, travel advisors have their fingers on the pulse of the traveling public’s discretionary spending–historic, current and future,” added Kerby. “While no one can predict the future, advisor assessment is a key economic indicator providing significant insight. From this study we learned that the traveler and the travel advisor agree; even if a recession does occur the travel economy will continue to grow.”