Recommend Jan 2018 - 6

TOURISM OFFICE OF SPAIN

TRAVELtalk

Paloma Villaverde de Rico

The talk at the recent USTOA Annual
Conference & Marketplace was "2018 is
going to be a banner year." According to
the annual survey conducted by USTOA,
nearly all (95 percent) of USTOA tour
operator members anticipate growth in
sales for the year ending in 2018, with
two-thirds of members optimistic and
forecasting a "boom year" with growth
anywhere from 7 to 10 percent higher. This
bright view for 2018 comes on the heels of
a year in which the majority of USTOA
members reported a rise in sales, with half
of those who responded to the USTOA
survey citing an increase of 10 percent
or higher. A third of those members who
responded to the survey attributed the
sales growth to an improving economy and
consumer confidence.
It's definitely a cheery outlook, but
members also stated that one of the global
risks that could impact potential growth
in 2018 is global financial instability. Terry
Dale, president and CEO of USTOA,
attributes that potential risk tour operator
members worry about "to human instinct or
6 january 2018

business instinct...the fear that perhaps the
floor is going to fall out of the economy; is
there going to be a correction? But it seems
that from everything I've read and heard,
there's no reason to believe the market
won't continue on the path that it's on in
2018. All the pre sales and deposits that are
coming in are saying, yep, it's going to be
a substantial year."
So who's traveling? A little more than
half of the members who responded to
the USTOA annual survey point to baby
boomers as their customer base, and a
quarter said that families represented
anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of their
annual passengers. And, of course, you've
all been seeing and hearing about the
growth in solo traveling, and USTOA
members are seeing that trend move
upwards as well, with almost half reporting
that they saw a growth in solo travelers in
2017 over 2016. "You see a lot of people
going solo," said Paula Twidale, executive
v.p. for Collette, during the show's press
conference with USTOA's executive
committee. "People don't want to hold

back. If they are not going with their
spouse," they'll go solo. Their thinking is,
"nothing is going to hold me back."
And what destinations are solo
travelers, families, Millennials and Baby
Boomers seeking out? Well, the hot
international destinations for 2018 are all
over the map, with Australia eating up
the number one spot, followed by Spain,
then Iceland tied with Italy for the #3
slot, and France and Japan coming in at
number 4 and 5, respectively. This was
the first time Japan made this list, and I
asked Dale what his members were saying
about Asia bookings in general (Vietnam
was named the third top emerging or "off
the beaten path" destination for 2018).
"I'm hearing anecdotally that things are
healthy and I know several members who
started with new product to that region
within the last couple of years and the
growth they talk about sounds
very impressive."
One of the top experiences that
travelers yearn for, whether they are
traveling to France, Japan or Australia, is
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend Jan 2018

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