More tour operators are seeing an increase in bookings, according to new findings released by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA).
According to a survey of tour operators, nearly two thirds (64%) of responding tour operators have seen an upswing in bookings in the last 30 days.
Roughly a quarter (29%) have seen no change in bookings during this timeframe, with the remaining 7% reporting a decrease in bookings.
Roughly 41% of respondents report that they have new passenger bookings scheduled for travel in the fourth quarter of 2020, while 15% have bookings made for the third quarter of 2020. Three fourths (76%) of active members reported new travel bookings for the second quarter of 2021. Half (51%) report new bookings being made for Q1 2021 travel and two thirds (63%) say they have received bookings for Q3 or Q4 of 2021 travel. Roughly 12% of members report new passenger bookings for 2022.
Nearly three fourths (71%) of current Active Member traveler bookings are to international destinations, the remaining 29% of traveler bookings are to North America.
According to the same DMO Associate Member survey, nearly all (94%) responding DMOs expect FIT product to come back sooner and stronger compared to other tour product as their destination begins to reopen for tourism. Three fourths (74%) of destinations believe small groups will come back sooner and stronger than other tour product.
In regards to health and safety practices, 94% of DMOs said they will use their own governments’ health and hygiene protocol. Nearly half (43%) reported that they will rely on UNWTO/WHO guidelines, while 15% noted that other health organizations guidelines will be utilized.
When asked when they anticipate restarting operations in destinations around the world, here's what tour operators said region-by-region:
Africa: More than a quarter (29%) of tour operators foresee restarting operations in the first quarter of 2021, while slightly less than a quarter (21%) anticipate returning to the region in September 2020.
Antarctica: Roughly one third (31%) of respondents with itineraries to Antarctica anticipate resuming operations in the first quarter of 2021. A quarter (26%) said they plan to return between November and December 2020.
Asia: The most selected response for a potential restart of operations in the region was the first quarter of 2021, by 31%.
Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands: More than half (53%) of tour operators with programs to this region anticipate resuming operations in the first quarter of 2021.
Canada: A third (36%) of Active Members see September 2020 as a potential return to operations in Canada. Respondents also showed new optimism for an October 2020 return to business, with the response jumping to 12%.
Central America: The most selected response for a potential operations restart in the region was the first quarter of 2021 at 33%.
Europe: Half (50%) of respondents anticipate resuming operations in Europe between September and October 2020.
Mexico: 20% of tour operator respondents anticipate returning in the first quarter of 2021.
South America: 30% of tour operators with programs to countries in South America anticipate resuming operations in the first quarter of 2021. Another third (37%) anticipate resuming operations between September and October 2020.
United States: Half (52%) of respondents anticipate domestic operations restarting between September and October 2020. Respondents also expressed optimism for an October 2020 return to business, with 15%.