Greece is among the top three international destinations that American travelers are booking, according to a survey on tourism recovery in the post-coronavirus era released by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA).
The new findings from a survey of USTOA’s Tour Operator Active Members on post-Covid-19 plans for recovery and resumption of business, found that Italy topped the list of destinations of choice, followed by Ireland, and in third spot Greece, Germany, and the UK.
“We saw Europe have a strong presence in last year’s survey and PwC’s survey the year prior, showing us that there is still strong interest and growth for European travel amongst US consumers,” said USTOA President and CEO, Terry Dale.
It should be noted that half (50 percent) of USTOA members anticipate returning to Europe in the second quarter of 2021, 33 percent of which specifically named April 2021.
Two thirds (69 percent) of respondents to the survey conducted in late October, say they are confident or highly confident that guest bookings will increase in 2021 while nine out of 10 expressed their company’s outlook for resumption of business in 2021 is optimistic or cautiously optimistic.
Indicatively, 63 percent of tour operator members reported an increase in new bookings in the last 60 days, while 29 percent reported no change with bookings remaining the same.
With regard to time of travel based on bookings made in the last 60 days, 92 percent of active agents said travel bookings were made for the third quarter of 2021, 79 percent for Q4 2021, 69 percent for Q2 2021, while 33 percent for first quarter of 2021. Additionally, 21 percent reported bookings for Q4 2020 and 60 percent for 2022.
In terms of average age of those who traveled or are booked to travel between July and December 2020, the survey reports 43 percent in the 56-74 age group, 26 percent – 40-55-year-olds, 15 percent in the 24-39 bracket, 8 percent 23 or younger and 8 percent – 75+.
According to the study, USTOA’s active members named small group tours as the most popular travel product for 2021, followed by private groups, FIT, river cruising, small ship cruising, and classic group tours (25+ passengers).
Safety and wellness appear to have the strongest influence on consumers choosing a travel destination in 2021, followed by border reopening/government travel restrictions and lastly, distance/ease of travel to and from destination, value, and outdoor components.
Cancellation/refund policy was named the top most frequently asked question during bookings in the last 60 days, followed by queries about health protocols and health/Covid-19 insurance policies.
Lastly, with regard to re-opening business, active members named customer confidence as the biggest obstacle to operating in 2021, followed by border closing and confusion across countries/states and uncertainty of Covid-19 vaccine.
Other concerns included coordination of protocols across states/borders/suppliers, availability of rapid Covid-19 testing, flight connectivity, insurance coverage, news media cycle, and insecurity about suppliers.