Price cuts and packages could be silver lining in cautious tourism forecast


An economically challenged tourism market may have a silver lining for those Americans (and that’s most of us) still planning to travel, but on a tighter budget. A lengthy tourism forecast released this morning by the Travel Industry Association predicts that most Americans will still travel, though on shorter trips, and to wherever they find the best deal. That’ll result in an overall industry decline in leisure travel of about 1.3 percent, while business travel’s projected to drop 4 percent this year, according to the industry’s forecast report, published in several national newspapers today.. Other findings include:

Traveler imports down, exports up

The forecast, released to media in a conference call, predicted 3 percent fewer international visitors to the U.S. and a greater tendency of Americans to travel to Canada, Mexico or Europe to take advantage of the relative strengthening of the dollar in those markets.

Empty business rooms may mean leisure travel deals

A projected decline (4 percent this year, 2.7 percent next) in business travel could mean good news for leisure travelers willing to be flexible in travel dates. Hotels may slash rates to fill rooms, especially midweek, forecasters suggested.

We love travel, don’t have enough time or money

Perceived value’s likely to drive this year’s travel decisions, according to Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO Ypartnership, which co-authored the tourism study. Perceived safety, quality and affordability of travel is up, he said. Availability of time and money is down, resulting in some decreased interest. Overall, 60 percent of the 116 million households in country have taken at least one trip at least 50 miles from home in last year. “To Americans, a vacation is a birthright,” he said. “Many (people) are trading down, but few are trading out.”

We want no surprises

All-inclusives and packages will be popular as a way to manage/predict the total trip cost, forecasters predict. Vacationers may cut back, ie: staying four nights instead of five, and spend less on food and souvenirs.

We’ll go anywhere, if the price is right

One-third of travelers will consider different destinations than initially planned if a compelling deal is offered.

Take us to the sheep

Agricultural tours are up a whopping 72 percent, followed by holiday travel (up 35 percent); spectator sports (up 34 percent); culinary tours (up 31 percent); and historic or heritage travel (up 23 percent).

Book now

Many airline routes have been cut, meaning early reservations are key, especially around holiday and heavy travel times.

Even luxury travel’s feeling the pinch

The cruise market remains steady, but stock market shock’s led to deals by high-end travel providers like Ambercrombie and Kent, along the lines of free air with a package or two-for-one cruises.

Economic woes bump trip cost averages

Finding bargains may be more necessary than ever, according to a separate tourism forecast released this week. An adjusted forecast by American Express predicts the average cost of a domestic trip to rise 2.8 percent this year, an international trips, 4.3 percent. Factor in new baggage fees, dining, airport parking and even package shipping, and you can expect to pay about $400 more to the total cost of a trip taken by air, according to the report.