According to the study, active members of USTOA contributed $17 billion to the U.S tour operator industry in 2017, serving 9.2 million individual travelers. Furthermore, member operators are extremely confident about business in the year ahead: 100% of responding tour operator members anticipate growth in sales in 2019. “Since the first PwC study was commissioned in 2012, it’s the first time we have seen such a bullish response with our entire membership projecting growth ahead,” said Terry Dale, President and CEO of USTOA. “It’s even more encouraging that more than half of all members (56%) forecast growth of sales ranging from seven to 10% or more in 2019, indicating a potential boom year.” Dale also reinforced the critical role of travel agents in the continued success of members’ businesses: Active Members reported that travel agencies represented roughly two-thirds (64%) of total packages sold in 2017.
Where Your Clients Want to Go in 2019
Italy was named the most popular destination for travelers in 2019. The top 10 “hot” destinations for next year also included Iceland, followed by Japan, Vietnam, Australia, France, Spain, Colombia, Cambodia and Portugal.
Active members identified their top 10 off-the-beaten path or emerging destinations that they see gaining popularity in 2019: Iceland ranked first, Cambodia ranked second, followed by Croatia, Colombia, Vietnam, Portugal, Bhutan, Bolivia, Myanmar, and Ethiopia.
“It’s interesting to see so many European destinations top the list this year,” said Dale. “This validates the strong interest in Europe among consumers, driven by both more product and more demand including the growing river cruise market.”
Demand for experiential travel programs continues to remain high. Roughly 82% of members offer art and culture travel experiences. The art and culture category is also the highest ranked experiential program for travelers in 2017, based on volume of sales.
Two-thirds of membership offer honeymoon and romance programs, 63% of members offer adventure programs, and more than half (56%) offer multi-generational family programs.