The Associated Press (AP) just released a poll indicating that fewer Americans will be traveling for leisure this summer. While this is probably true and is expected given the health of our economy, the decline is less than we expected, 42% of Americans plan vacation travel this summer down from 49% in 2005.
On the flip side, this polling data reveals that ALMOST HALF the group surveyed will STILL be traveling for leisure DESPITE the economy. The data suggested more travelers will be coming from those with higher income (66% in the $100,000 + bracket, 48% from $50,000-$100,000 bracket) and people will take cheaper vacations or will travel closer to home.
By all indications from this poll, the correlation between the economy and leisure travel is not as strong as expected. What the current economy does influence is trip destination, trip cost and trip selection. Perhaps the economic realities have not sunk in. Perhaps people with some discretionary income feel travel is too important to their lives to completely forego.
One thing is certain, travelers are looking for value in their travels — both in terms of money and experience. They want their travel dollars to have value beyond the immediate leisure benefits. This may be one reason why a recent survey of volunteer travel operators expect voluntourism sales to rise in 2009. Alternative/niche travels such as voluntourism or volunteer tourism and adventure travel are finding a market among travelers looking for authentic and meaningful personal travel experiences in this economy.
Have your travel plans changed this year? How?