December 13, 2023

Where to Go in 2024: United States Tour Operators Association Unveils Top Destinations

Tour Operator Survey Also Affirms Positive Outlook for Travel Industry in Year Ahead

In a recent travel trend and forecast survey, the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) named Italy the most popular international destination for travelers in 2024. The top three "hot destinations" list also included France in second, followed by the United Kingdom and Spain tied at third.

USTOA tour operator members also identified the most popular US destinations for 2024. California topped the list, followed by Alaska in second, and New York in third.

When asked which tour products have the strongest passenger growth trajectory for 2024, small group tours topped the list. Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA stated, "Our members have been reporting small group tours as an emerging trend since prior to the pandemic. This only reinforces its continued popularity." Private groups ranked second, followed by FIT, classic group tours, river cruising, small ship cruising, solo travel, and ocean cruising.

USTOA also asked its members what the strongest influence on consumers will be in choosing where to go in 2024. Value ranked the highest. Dale continued, "This certainly complements the leading threat of economic uncertainty our members identified, as clearly, consumers are going to be paying stronger attention to value as it relates to any large purchase including travel." Distance or ease of travel to and from a destination was named fourth, followed by sustainable tourism practices, and potential overcrowding in sixth.

2024 Business Forecast

According to the survey results, announced at the 2023 USTOA Annual Conference and Marketplace in Los Angeles, December 2-6, nine out of ten (92%) members anticipate growth in sales in 2024. Two thirds (63%) of those respondents are "optimistic," forecasting a "boom year" with growth anywhere from 7% to 10% and higher. Similarly, 90% of members anticipate growth in passengers next year with two thirds (63%) of those respondents "optimistic," forecasting a "boom year" with passenger growth from 7% to 10% and higher.

Dale added, "Our tour operator members are very positive, if not enthusiastic about business growth in the coming year with 86% highly confident to confident that guest bookings will increase in 2024. That's an encouraging sign showing us that all the post-pandemic built-up demand isn't slowing down quite yet."

Global Risks

While the Active Members of USTOA view the upcoming year with optimism, they also addressed the potential threats to travel confidence in 2024. Economic uncertainty, which also includes global financial instability and the strength of the dollar, topped the list of biggest threats for 2024. The cost of living followed in second, moving down one spot from last year's survey when members were asked a similar question. Terrorism followed in third. Dale added, "Given recent world events, it is not surprising that financial considerations and terrorism top the list of global concerns for our tour operator members."

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