How Americans Will Travel
By Dr Auliana Poon
From Sun, Sand and Sea to Culture and Content – How to Capture the Changing American Travel Market
The US is the largest and most important travel market in the world. In terms of travel expenditure, Americans are top spenders, recording US$118 billion in 2008 onspending abroad, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. The US market is the second largest market in terms of outbound travel. More than 40 million Americans travel abroad, accounting for 63.5 million trips.
A new report from Tourism Intelligence International entitled "How Americans Will Travel 2015", predicts that American outbound arrivals to overseas destinations will rebound after the global economic recession. US arrivals to international long-haul destinations will reach 32.88 million by the year 2015, up from 30.79 million in 2008. This represents an average growth rate of a mere 1% per annum or an absolute rate of 7.5% between 2008 and the year 2015, according to Tourism Intelligence International.
The region with the most promise in terms of growth of American outbound travel is Central America. This region grew by 145% between 1996 and 2008 or an average annual growth rate of 7.8 percent.
"How Americans Will Travel 2015" from Tourism Intelligence International, points to a radical shift in the North American travel market and claims that destinations cannot continue to compete on natural attributes of sun, sand and sea alone. North American travellers increasingly buy holidays with sense and sensibility and look for status and self-improvement on their holidays. Americans want value for money but they also need a sanctuary for their senses. Culture and Content will need to be added to travel and tourism products in order to stay competitive. This has important implications for destinations seeking to attract North American travellers, such as the Caribbean, where almost two-thirds (63.4%) of all arrivals are from the NorthAmerica, and Europe, which attracts 41% of American overseas travellers.
Dr. Auliana Poon, Managing Director of Tourism Intelligence International and author of "How Americans will Travel 2015" argues that the "Creative Class" of American Travellers do not want to merely take photos and sit on the sidelines. They want to experience the culture of a place they visit; they what to know about the content or "goodness" of a product before they buy it; they want to be active participants. Not surprising, over two-fifths of all Americans who travel abroad chose Europe.
For Americans, taking part in activities of a cultural nature while on holiday is growing in importance. More than half (51%) of the 40 million Americans travelling abroad visit historical places; almost one-third (32%) visit cultural heritage sites; and one-quarter (25%) visit an art gallery or museum, according to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries.
Americans' interest in culture is definitely on the increase. And not just for the big-ticket megaevents. North Americans are, in fact, keenly interested in small local eventssuch as the Tomato Festival in Buñol, Spain, musicals and theatre in London, England, museums and monuments in Berlin, Germany, circus and wrestling in Turkey, bistros, sidewalk cafes, street fairs, etc. Definitely on the increase is demand for cultural events at local communities in which visitors participate and blend in with locals (rather than events put on just for the visitors and where they are in themajority and are onlookers rather than participants).
Destinations will need to focus more on supporting and promoting local, indigenous events at the community level to attract the Creative Class of American travellers.
"How Americans Will Travel 2015" points to the growth in participation of the 'Creative Class' also known as the Bourgeoisie Bohemians (Bobos), for whom intrinsic values and content are important considerations in their travel decisions. In terms of their attitude to food, they are not simply interested in drinking orange juice. They want to know whether the juice is freshly squeezed; is it genetically engineered; is it organically grown; what is the carbon footprint associated with getting the orange juice to them; and are the farmers who produce them fairly paid? They are not just interested in the product and where it comes from, but in its intrinsic values and content.
Similarly, with regard to holidays, the diverse and individualistic lifestyles of the Creative Class involve active participation and experiential activities that are multi-dimensional. They enjoy 'Street Level Culture', considered as a fascinating blend of cafes, bars, rum shops, sidewalk musicians, and small galleries and bistros, where it is hard to draw the line between participant and observer, or between creativity and its creators. Members of the Creative Class enjoy unique experiences and they would prefer to be a participant rather than a spectator. They want activities that manage to appeal to their sense of status and self-improvement at the same time.
At the same time, the US travel market has been under tremendous pressure – from war, terrorism and recession; to fear, falling house prices, falling income levels, and rising unemployment. This has had a negative impact on US outbound travel. Analysts predicted that Americans will spend as much as US$30 billion less on leisure trips in spring and summer of 2009.
Dr. Auliana Poon asserts, however, that Americans are trading down but not out – they are travelling closer to home; staying away from home for shorter periods; using less expensive accommodation; but they are travelling. In addition, with the 'Obama Effect', Americans are more hopeful, less fearful and pent up desires will cause a major boom in travel with the emerging upswing. Indeed, many stressed out Americans, who postponed or reduced travel because of the recession, would take advantage ofthe new growth in the economy to take a much-deserved vacation.
By the year 2015, the US would have been out of recession. In fact, Tourism Intelligence International predicts that the recession will end by the close of 2010.
The region selected by most Americans travelling abroad is Europe (41% of total overseas travel). Tourism Intelligence International predicts that US travel to Europe will increase by almost 9% in 2015 over 2008. By the year 2015 the US economy would have been out of the recession and the dollar would have caught up with the Euro, predicts Tourism Intelligence International. This would certainly bode well for travel from the US to Europe.
The close proximity of Central America to the US, the differences in culture and language and the growing concern for the environment augurs well for travel from the US to Central America. One of the most popular destinations in Central America is Costa Rica, which is expected to receive many Americans inthe coming years because of the ecotourism attractions there. Tourism Intelligence International predicts that there would be over 3 million US arrivals to Central America by the year 2015. This represents an average annual growth rate of 2.4% or an absolute rate of 18% between 2008 and 2015.
The African region is also expected to do well, particularly South Africa with the World Cup taking place there in 2010. US arrivals to Africa is expected to be volatile but could reach as high as 5% annual growth between 2008 and 2015.
The Caribbean, one of the bright spots of tourism, is not expected to perform well in the future in terms of American arrivals. The Caribbean experienced consistent declines between the mid 1990s and the early part of the 21st century. After the terror attacks of 9/11, US arrivals to the Caribbean soared, growing by 32% between 2002 and 2006 alone. Americans want to travel closer to home and to seemingly safer destinations. Since 2006, however, tourism arrivals from the US to the Caribbean have been declining. Tourism Intelligence International predicts that American arrivals to the Caribbean will continue to decline to the year 2015. The decline is expected to be in the vicinity of almost 8% between 2008 and 2015. This represents an average decline of 1.2 percent per annum.
To win in this changing American market and gain market share, however, tourism destinations should look beyond the numbers to the fundamental developmental and psychographic shifts taking place among North Americans, particularly the rise of the 'Creative Class'. It is important for destinations to focus on the Culture and Content of their holiday offerings.
This volume will equip any travel and tourism provider with more than 30 key strategies to attract the different types of American travellers, including the creative class and other generations of American travellers – the Echo Boomers and the Generation Xers.
How Americans will Travel 2015 – Everything you need to know about the American and Canadian travel Markets – is available only from Tourism Intelligence International. Find out how the Americans will travel in the next five years? What havebeen the effects of the Global Economic Recession? What are the key driversthat affect the market? What are the 30 strategies your company can adopt insuccessfully targeting the North American travel market?
If there is one report that you should read this year to enable you to win in this market, it is "How the Americans Will Travel 2015". This 350-page report – published by Tourism IntelligenceInternational, Trinidad – highlights the latest trends, data and essential information to fully understand the American market over the next five years. The report, priced at €1,299 is presentedin a clear and concise format supported by over 200 tables and graphs. The Executive Brief is available at €499 and individual chapters are priced at €199 each.
"How Americans Will Travel 2015" was presented at the International Tourism Exchange (ITB) in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday 10th March 2010.
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Dr. Auliana Poon (email@example.com).
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