Orlando, FL (August 14, 2008) – The US Traveler Sentiment Index™ (TSI), a general measure of future travel intentions that derives from measures of six specific consumer sentiments, displayed its second consecutive quarterly decline in July 2008, dropping to 78.3 from 82.4 in April 2008 (March 2007 base = 100), according to the closely-watched travelhorizons™ survey. The decline was due primarily to significant decreases in both the perceived “affordability of travel” and “money available for travel.” The perceived “safety of travel” was the only one of the six TSI measures to increase since April 2008.
These data suggest that travel service suppliers may experience additional declines in demand during the next six months. The recent drop in the price of gasoline may reverse part of this expected decline but may not be sufficient to offset consumers’ concerns about credit issues and other economic factors.
Although the overall Traveler Sentiment Index™ is down, leisure travel intentions for the next six months (through January 2009) actually exceed those recorded at approximately the same time last year. According to the July survey, 74.5% of US adults are planning a trip during the next six months versus 70.9% in June 2007. This translates into a potential gain of 8.2 million adult leisure travelers based on the 2007 US Census estimate of 227.7 million Americans aged 18 or over.
As previous travelhorizons™ surveys have suggested, however, future trips are likely to be characterized by shorter stays and reduced spending in destinations that are “closer to home.”
A total of 58.1 million American adults do not plan to take a leisure trip between August 2008 and January 2009. Economic factors continue to be the major reason for the decision not to travel, although the lack of time appears to be an increasing barrier to leisure travel as well. Over half (52.2%) of respondents cited the price of gas as the reason for not traveling, while 40.9% agreed that “travel in general is too expensive.” Both sentiments remained virtually unchanged since April 2008.
The percentage of respondents mentioning the high cost of airfares increased from 23.6% to 30.9% between April and July 2008, and time, or the lack thereof, appears to be an increasing barrier to leisure travel. Over one quarter (25.2%) of respondents said they had “no time or were too busy” to take a leisure trip during the next six months – up from 19.0% in April. Similarly, the percentage agreeing with the statement they “can’t get time off from work” increased from 10.2% in April to 17.0% in July.