With the spring break travel season in full swing for most Americans, new research by MMGY Travel Intelligence suggests that U.S. travel intentions may be softening somewhat overall. According to the latest edition of the research firm’s Portrait of American Travelers – Spring 2023 study, seven in 10 U.S. adults plan to take a vacation in the next 12 months. While still a strong majority at 70%, the figure is down from 73% in October and down significantly from 86% a year ago.
“Any softness we’re seeing in travel intentions is tied almost entirely to lower-income households where concerns over personal finances and the affordability of travel inherently carry more weight,” said Chris Davidson, EVP, MMGY Travel Intelligence. “At the same time, a majority of travelers appear poised to travel more and spend more in the year ahead, and this should effectively offset those who may opt-out.”
Despite a decrease in the percentage of U.S. adults planning to travel in the next 12 months, the intended number of trips (4.2 trips, up from 3.9 in February 2022) and spending intentions ($4,339, up from $2,581 in February 2022) of those still planning to travel continue to increase.
Another positive takeaway is that interest in international travel continues to rise. According to the study, eight in 10 active leisure travelers are interested in traveling abroad in the next two years, up significantly from the 73% who reported interest in February 2022.
“This may be partially due to a subset of travelers who are prioritizing international travel, but it could also be pent-up demand for destinations that have only just rolled out the welcome mat for inbound international travelers,” said Davidson. “This is good news for places like Asia and Oceania—only recently available again to U.S. tourists—that have gained significant interest as a travel destination since last year.”
The Portrait of American Travelers – Spring 2023 examines the behaviors and preferences of more than 4,500 U.S. adults from data collected in February. Other key observations include:
- The hotel industry appears to be bouncing back after the pandemic shifted travelers’ interests to alternatives like short-term rentals and camping. In fact, 70% of active leisure travelers planning to take a vacation in the next six months are planning to stay in a hotel/resort, up from 60% in February 2022. Despite concerns about COVID-19 decreasing, cleanliness standards are still among the top features travelers are looking for when choosing accommodations.
- Regarding sustainability, six in 10 active leisure travelers are willing to pay more to patronize travel service providers demonstrating environmental responsibility, relatively unchanged from 62% last year. Younger generations specifically are more willing than older generations to make monetary commitments to help fund sustainability programs, while older generations are willing to change their travel behaviors if it doesn’t increase the cost, such as visiting in the off-season or using less single-use plastics while traveling.
- When it comes to sources of information for travel ideas and inspiration, travelers report seeking out more sources than in 2022—communicating their increased usage of review websites, online visitor guides, destination websites and other travel mediums.