Nearly Three in Five Americans Plan to Travel for Leisure this Summer Despite the Economy

New York, N.Y. – August 6, 2012 – Many Americans are continuing on with their summertime travel and vacation plans this year, despite the economy. More than two in five U.S. adults (44%) say the economy does not have any impact on their travel plans, which is a slight increase from 2009 (40%) and a decrease from 2010 (46%). Just under one in ten (8%) say they will be more likely to travel (up from 6% in 2010) and 36% say they will be less likely to travel (same as 2010) because of the economy.

It is leisure travel that is getting all the attention this season. Three in five (60%) adults have planned at least one leisure trip through August (down slightly from 65% and 66% in 2009 and 2010, respectively), and 15% plan to travel for leisure more than three times this summer. When asked the same about travel plans for business, less than one in five adults (19%) anticipate traveling for business during the summer months, slightly down from 2009 (23%) and the same as in 2010 (19%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,634 U.S. adults (ages 18 and over) surveyed online between May 7 and May 15, 2012.

For those that are not planning to travel this season, it may be due to gas prices. Nearly half (47%) of Americans report that current gas prices may impact their likelihood to travel this summer, while only 35% shared that it will have no impact on their plans.

Even so, there is a sharp increase in the anticipated travel spend for 2012 (with a mean of $3,136) compared to 2010 (with a mean of $1,627). In fact, when accounting for transportation, accommodations, food/beverage and activities, 47% expect to spend more than $1,000 in 2012 compared to 34% who expected to spend that much in 2010.

Are Americans still going on a cruise?

Global publicity around the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship in Italy earlier this year has had very little impact on American’s likelihood to take another cruise. Among those travelers that have cruised in the past or plan to in the future, two-thirds (65%) shared that they are no more or less likely to cruise again following the accident. In fact, 12% even reported that they are more likely to cruise despite the event in Italy. In total, nearly one-quarter of U.S. adults (23%) plan to take a cruise in the next five years.

So What?

While consumers are not necessarily planning on taking more vacations this summer as compared to last, when they do take vacation, they plan on spending more, said Allison Powell, Research Director at Harris Interactive. Despite the uncertainty in the economy, people need their vacation time and this is a good thing for the travel industry. They seem to have changed their marketing strategy to reflect this and, since the numbers have held mostly steady year over year, American travelers are paying attention and responding.

 

TABLE 1

LEISURE TRIPS PLANNED

How many leisure and/or business trips do you anticipate taking over the next four months (May – August)?

Percent planning leisure trips

Base: All adults

Total 2009

Total 2010

Total 2012

%

%

%

0 Trips

35

34

39

1-2 Trips

48

47

45

3-4 Trips

15

13

9

5+ Trips

2

6

6

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding;

In 2009 the nets were taken of 3-5 trips and 6+ trips, respectively.

 

TABLE 2

BUSINESS TRIPS PLANNED

How many leisure and/or business trips do you anticipate taking over the next four months (May – August)?

Percent planning business trips

Base: All adults

Total 2009

Total 2010

Total 2012

%

%

%

0 Trips

77

81

81

1-2 Trips

9

13

12

3-4 Trips

11

3

3

5+ Trips

3

3

4

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding;

In 2009 the nets were taken of 1 trip, 2-5 trips, and 6+ trips, respectively.

 

TABLE 3

LIKELIHOOD TO TRAVEL IN NEXT 4 MONTHS

How does your outlook on the U.S. economy impact your likelihood to travel within the next 4 months (May-August?)

Base: All adults

2009

2010

2012

%

%

%

I am much more likely to travel

3

3

3

I am somewhat more likely to travel

4

3

5

No impact on my likelihood to travel

40

46

44

I am somewhat less likely to travel

23

20

17

I am much less likely to travel

18

16

19

I have no plans to travel

12

13

13

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding.

 

TABLE 4

LIKELIHOOD TO TRAVEL IN NEXT 4 MONTHS

How do current gas prices impact your likelihood to travel within the next 4 months (May-August)?

Base: All adults

2012

%

I am much more likely to travel

2

I am somewhat more likely to travel

2

No impact on my likelihood to travel

35

I am somewhat less likely to travel

24

I am much less likely to travel

23

I have no plans to travel

14

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding.

 

TABLE 5

ANTICIPATED TRAVEL (LEISURE + BUSINESS) SPEND

Approximately how much do you anticipate you will spend in total (leisure travel/business travel) in the next four months (May – August)? Please consider spending to include transportation, accommodations, food/beverage, activities, etc. Please include spending on items that you will personally pay for (or your company will pay for).

Base: Plan to travel this summer

Total 2010

Total 2012

%

%

$0-$100

7

4

$101-$500

34

25

$501-$750

8

19

$751-$1,000

17

4

More than $1,000

34

47

Mean

$1,627

$3,136

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding.

 

TABLE 6

CHANGE IN NUMBER AND DURATION OF LEISURE TRIPS

Compared to your travel last summer (May – August 2009), how will your outlook on the U.S. economy impact the leisure travel you anticipate taking this summer (May – August 2010)?

Base: Adults who traveled last summer

 

Increase

Remain the Same

Decrease

Not Applicable

%

%

%

%

Number of leisure trips by car

2009

15

50

29

6

2010

16

59

22

3

2012

13

57

26

4

Number of weekend trips

2009

12

44

34

10

2010

14

53

25

8

2012

11

54

27

9

Amount spent on leisure trips

2009

10

40

46

4

2010

12

54

32

2

2012

12

51

35

3

Duration of leisure trips

2009

10

51

35

4

2010

9

60

27

3

2012

10

60

27

3

Number of leisure trips by plane

2009

9

29

33

30

2010

7

36

28

30

2012

7

37

24

32

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

 

TABLE 7

GOING ON A CRUISE

Which of the following have you done or do you plan on doing? 

Base: All adults

Total

Region

East

Midwest

South

West

%

%

%

%

%

Plan on taking a cruise in the next 5 years

23

22

15

25

29

Have taken a cruise in the past 5 years

14

15

10

14

17

Neither of these

71

71

80

69

64

Note: Multiple responses accepted

 

TABLE 8

IMPACT OF COSTA CONCORDIA ACCIDENT

To what extent did the accident that caused the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship in Italy impact the likelihood that you will cruise [again] in the future? 

Base: Past/future cruisers

Total

Region

East

Midwest

South

West

%

%

%

%

%

MORE LIKELY (NET)

12

2

10

14

19

Much more likely

7

1

8

7

10

Somewhat more likely

5

1

2

7

8

No more or less likely

65

70

67

65

61

LESS LIKELY (NET)

18

24

16

17

15

Somewhat less likely

13

18

12

14

10

Much less likely

4

6

4

2

5

Not at all sure

5

4

7

4

6

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 7 to 16, 2012 among 2,634 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J41826

Q855, 860, 865, 870, 875, 880, 885

The Harris Poll® #50, August 6, 2012