Trends for 2012

TripAdvisor being one of the largest corporate entities in the online tourism sector is in a good position to monitor trends in the travel industry. It announced the results of its travel survey conducted in November 2011. TripAdvisor interviewed over 2,700 US travelers.

It is interesting to note that despite the general economic downturn in America and in much of the world, 31% of respondents said they would spend more on vacations in 2012, while 49% said they would spend the same as last year.

Here’s a breakdown in estimated spending by tourists in 2012:

  • 79% spend $3,000
  • 57% spend $5,000
  • 21% spend $10,000 or more

90% of people are planning 2 or more leisure trips in 2012
24% are planning 5 or more trips

There clearly is no downturn in the tourism business. One presumes that the tougher economic climate will mean that there are more service providers in competition for this lucrative market. This competition will no doubt drive down prices. For example, already in Koh Samui hotels are regularly promotions dropping their prices by 20%. This is because the market in over-saturated –  40% occupancy rates are now common.

Types of trip

It is perhaps no surprise that the most popular type of tourist vacation is a beach trip (44%). Second is cultural trip to museums, places of historical interest etc. (42%). Third is to take a road trip (40%). The fourth most popular type of vacation is a city break (36%), and fifth is a romantic getaway (24%).

This confirms people’s love of the ocean, and is line with the fact that more than 50% of the world population lives within 60 km of the coast.

The hazardous effects of global warming that will raise water levels around the world will thus strike a bigger blow to the tourism sector than economic downturn.

In environmental terms, it is depressing to see that road trip features so heavily on the vacation favorites list. This is no doubt part of a function of the size of the USA and the iconic status ‘road trips’ have for denizens of America.

The TripAdvisor survey also showed a drop in popularity of trips to amusement parks as well as hiking trips and lake trips. While the demise of the high-carbon theme park is no bad thing from an environmental and cultural point of view, it is sad to see an abating interest in holidays where the aim is to get closer to nature (hiking trips and lake trips).


European travelers are always amused at the parochial nature of Americans. The 2012 survey largely confirms this perception of American tourists as being unadventurous. 68% of respondents said they would travel abroad; of these, 54% plan to go to some like France and Europe and 52% to either Canada or Mexico. Only 12% will travel to Asia.


This makes disappointing reading. Not only does TripAdvisor underplay this subject in its survey, but moreover the actions that are mentioned are limited and smack of perfunctory effort:

  • 71% people participate in a hotel’s towel or linen re-use program. Considering that just means throwing used towels on the bathroom floor, which is hardly a great eco-trend in tourism.
  • 51% of people switch off the air-con and lights when they leave the room. This is probably to do with key cards that turn the power off when the room is vacated. The fact that 49% of people still waste electricity and contribute to carbon emissions by leaving the air-con on while they are away is not encouraging.

12% of people choose a hotel or resort for its ‘green’ credentials. This number could be bigger, but it is an encouraging trend in world tourism. It is hoped the increased competition for the tourist buck will see more environmentally friendly measures being taken by hotels and travel companies to tap into the green travel market.

Source of TripAdvisor story:

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