Survey: No Sign of Travel Slowdown Among Affluent

KANSAS CITY, MO— According to a new survey, the outlook for 2020 is promising with affluent American international travelers intending to take 2.2 international vacations in the next 12 months, and most notably, 37% wanting to travel more this year than last.

The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) and travel-focused marketing agency MMGY Global, have partnered to conduct the “2020 Portrait of the American International Traveler Survey,” which captures the underlying motivations and future intentions that influence travelers’ behavior.

The survey profiled 2,026 affluent American travelers with an annual household income of more than $100,000, who have current passports, who are qualified to have traveled outside of North America in the past two years and intend to travel outside of North America in the next two years. It’s a group that feels their identity is closely intertwined with travel, with 64% reporting they believe the destinations they visit say a lot about who they are.

Among the many insights revealed in the survey were key travel motivators:

  • The top motives for travel were to experience different cultures (92%), exploration and adventure (89%) and a hunger to experience new cuisines (83%).
  • 87% of respondents said they prefer to focus on making memories over acquiring more things.

“The results are extremely encouraging for both our membership, as well as the travel industry as a whole,” said Terry Dale, president/CEO, USTOA. “Not only are American travelers not slowing down, but cultural curiosity and exploration are driving them to travel deeper and connect more personally to the destinations they visit.”

Additional findings include the following:

  • Group tours are most popular with affluent millennials, with 69% reporting they are likely to vacation as part of a multi-day organized group tour in the next two years and 57% saying they vacationed on a multi-day, organized group tour in the last 12 months.
  • Affluent millennials are the most likely demographic to have used a travel agent to book a vacation, with 59% saying they had used a travel agent to book an international vacation in the last 12 months.
  • Europe remains the top destination American international travelers want to visit by an overwhelming majority (72%). However, 41% of travelers agreed that they avoid visiting popular destinations, opening the door to more off-the-beaten-path vacations.
  • Social media’s influence is growing. The number of respondents who said they follow a destination on social media rose from 29% to 38% between 2018 and 2019.