New USTOA member surveys points to 2021 for travel recovery

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As the Covid-19 pandemic drags on, guided travel and vacation package sellers are seeing momentum for new bookings decline, according to a new survey from the USTOA.

The group’s newest member poll shows more than a third, or 38%, of its of Active Members have seen an increase in bookings in the past 60 days. Another 38% reported no change in bookings, while 24% said bookings have decreased.

In a June USTOA survey, in comparison, 64% of Active Members reported an increase in bookings.

“While it’s heartening that U.S. consumers are still making future travel plans, clearly the momentum has slowed while there is still so much uncertainty in the marketplace and the world,” said Terry Dale, USTOA president and CEO.

Asked when passengers who booked in the past 60 days planned to travel, the survey showed 10% were scheduled for travel in the third quarter of 2020 and 19% were for the fourth quarter.

Just over half, 52%, reported new bookings were for the fourth quarter of 2021, while 33% said they had bookings for the first quarter of next year.

Nearly three-fourths, 73%, of current Active Member traveler bookings are to international destinations, while the remaining 27% are for North America, the survey showed.

“Not surprisingly, what we are seeing now across the board is a lot more promise for the first half of 2021 for international travel,” Dale said. “On the homefront, two-thirds of tour operator members with product in the U.S. have started operations or plan to start between now and the end of 2020.”

More than a third of respondents, 37%, said they anticipate resuming operations in Europe in the first quarter of 2021, reflecting a shift from the survey conducted in June that showed 33% of members anticipated a September 2020 return.

None of the latest survey respondents anticipate returning to Europe next month, the USTOA said.

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