Despite rising costs and changing world events, international travel is poised to increase among affluent Americans over the next year, according to new research by MMGY Travel Intelligence. Today, the company released the findings of its Portrait of American International Travelers™study, presented in collaboration with the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA). Examining data from more than 2,000 respondents, the comprehensive national survey found that high-income, outbound U.S. travelers intend to take an average of 3.8 international vacations in the next 12 months, up 72% from 2.2 in 2019. Additionally, the average outbound traveler anticipates spending a total of $15,364 on international trips in the coming year – a 16% increase when compared to pre-pandemic spending predictions.
“It’s clear that there is a willingness and growing appetite to travel internationally, but the important thing for marketers to note is that the American traveler looks and acts quite differently than they did before COVID-19,” said MMGY Travel Intelligence Europe Managing Director Cees Bosselaar. “As international tourism ramps back up, destinations should continue to be mindful of the new concerns and challenges that today’s travelers face throughout the course of their journeys.”
Key findings from the third annual study include:
- Although overall interest in foreign travel is up, the number of destinations U.S. travelers want to visit is down compared to pre-pandemic, suggesting that travelers have become more selective in their purchase decisions. Europe, the South Pacific, the Caribbean and Canada were the top four destinations cited by U.S. travelers as places they want to visit.
- Indicating a shift in travel patterns, the study also noted an overall increase in interest in visiting less-crowded destinations and those that offer an abundance of outdoor activities.
- Examining generational differences, the study found that American Millennials plan to go on more international trips than Boomers (5.7 vs. 1.5 in the next 12 months) though Boomers anticipate spending twice as much on each trip ($7,725 vs. $3,564).
- Travel disruptions such as flight cancellations or delays reign supreme as the top concern for Americans traveling internationally. Concerns surrounding travel disruptions were shared equally across all generations, whereas other concerns such as inflation and COVID-19 appear to have more of an impact on younger travelers. Personal safety, as it relates to violence and unrest, and sustainability practices round out the top areas of concern for travelers.
“This study confirms that the sustainability efforts of a travel service provider or a destination are impacting travel decisions, primarily for younger generations,” said Terry Dale, President & CEO of USTOA. “Sixty-three percent of Millennials indicate that a travel service provider’s focus on sustainability impacts their travel decision-making.” Dale added that USTOA is using its milestone 50th anniversary in 2022 to look “50 years forward” to help its tour operator members initiate and grow sustainable and responsible practices to meet these evolving traveler expectations.
About the 2022 Portrait of American International Travelers™
Presented in partnership with USTOA, the third annual national survey of American international travelers examines the travel behaviors, spending habits, preferences and motivators of 2,024 respondents surveyed in July 2022. In order to qualify for the survey, respondents had to have an annual household income of $100,000 or more, had taken at least one vacation outside of North America during the past three years and plan to take at least one vacation outside of North America during the next 12 months. Respondents were selected randomly, and the sample was weighted based on age, gender, ethnicity, household income, geography and education to ensure the data is representative of American high-income households.
About MMGY Global
MMGY Global is the world’s leading integrated marketing firm specializing in the travel, hospitality and entertainment industries. With operations across the world, the award-winning organization maintains a global communications practice in all marketing channels, serving many of the world’s premier travel and tourism brands. As a company dedicated to the travel industry, MMGY Global strives to create a connected, inclusive and peaceful world by promoting travel as a cultural bridge of understanding. For more information, visit mmgyglobal.com.