Consumer’s Travel Plans Shift This Fall, Survey Says

by Richard D'Ambrosio

Havana, Cuba. Photo: Jorge Royan

Consumer travel preferences are shifting this fall as new destinations open and traditional popular destinations lose their luster. 

The travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth, based in St. Petersburg, FL, reported a 149% increase in Americans insuring trips to Cuba this fall, on the eve of resumption of scheduled commercial flights. At the same time, Squaremouth reported an 80% decrease in customers traveling to Turkey this fall following the continued unrest in the country, but an 80% rise in travelers insuring trips to South Africa, the greatest growth among the top 20 international destinations. 

Additionally, Spain replaced France as the #3 international destination, following two terrorist events in France in the past 12 months. 

Generally, the purchase of travel insurance at Squaremouth’s website follows travel purchase trends. 

Squaremouth said that 127% more customers are searching specifically for terrorism coverage when purchasing a policy this fall, and the number of travelers using Squaremouth’s “Terrorism” filter to buy policies for Germany, Italy and Spain more than doubled compared to fall 2015. 

Squaremouth also reported that 61% more customers are searching specifically for hurricane coverage when buying a policy, and the number of travelers using Squaremouth’s “Hurricane & Weather” filter to buy policies for Mexico and the Cayman Islands more than doubled comparing this season versus last year. 

On average, Americans are spending $2,836 per person to travel this fall — higher than summer travel — with retirees spending the most, an average of $3,420 per person. The average total cost of a trip this fall is $8,040, 5.7% higher than last autumn, and the average spending to the top five international destinations is down slightly from last fall, except for Mexico, where spending increased 6%. 

Traditional destinations still popular 
But some tried-and-true destinations continue to attract fall travelers. Squaremouth bookings to Italy are up 25% over this time last year, the most popular location cited as the primary destination of Squaremouth users. Mexico was ranked as the second most positive, up 23% over 2015. Bookings to Spain surged 73% for this fall, making it the third most popular. 

France bookings for the fall are down nearly 45%, Squaremouth reported, still good enough for the fourth spot, ahead of Canada. 

While Spain bookings catapulted forward, South Africa appears to have grown even more in popularity, Squaremouth said. Its citation as the primary arrival destination is up 80% for the fall, making it the fastest-growth destination. Japan and Portugal ranked third and fourth, and Greece tied with Australia for fifth fastest-growth market. 

Other notable results and trends
Retirees take the longest fall trips with an average of 17 days, while families with children take the shortest, averaging 10 days. 

Baby boomers make up 53% of Squaremouth customers traveling this fall, higher than spring and summer. 

France and Spain fell out of the top 5 international destinations for families with children. 

Older travelers favor Europe for fall travel, with Italy and Spain at the top of the list for travelers aged 65+. 

Travelers under 50 favor tropical locations, with Mexico and Bahamas topping their fall destinations. 

All data is based on American travelers insured on travel insurance policies purchased through Squaremouth prior to 8/23/16 for travel during 9/10/16-11/30/16. Travelers who are visiting multiple countries only have to enter one destination when purchasing a policy on Squaremouth.com. This report represents the destinations selected by travelers. 

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