American travel plans remain restrained

Although Americans are continuing to travel, their travel plans remain somewhat subdued, according to a new report from the U.S. Travel Association and MMGY Global.

The quarterly Travelhorizons survey aims to assess current perceptions of travel as well as business and leisure travel intentions for the next six months. The latest research is based on a survey of 2,200 U.S. adults completed in February 2012 and included the following key findings:

  • The share of U.S. adults taking a leisure trip edged up to 69% in February 2012 compared to 68% a year earlier. The number of trips taken by leisure travelers in the past year remained relatively constant at 4.0 trips.
  • Looking at intentions, 56% of U.S. adults plan on taking a leisure trip in the next six months. This is lower than the 59% who answered similarly in February 2011, but the same as February 2010.   
  • After falling precipitously from 39%in February 2008 to 24%in February 2011, the share of U.S. adults who took a business trip in the 12 months ended in February edged down to 22% in February 2012.
  • 41% of those who traveled for business in the past year were general business travelers, while 31% were traveling for conference or convention purposes.
  • Business travel intentions for the next six months remain essentially flat compared to a year earlier (15% versus 16%), indicating that economic growth in general will likely be moderate in the near term.

“Americans are continuing to travel, but intentions remain somewhat restrained compared to pre-recessionary levels, which is not surprising given the uneven nature of the modest economic recovery to-date,” said David Huether, senior vice president of research for the U.S. Travel Association. “We are carefully monitoring the ongoing surge in gas prices, which could erode travel perceptions about the affordability of travel as we edge closer to summer.”