Survey: US travellers expect to increase vacation spending

The Cayman Islands tourism industry has welcomed news that Americans plan to increase their holiday budget in 2011/12.

According to the latest American Express Spending and Saving Tracker, an average family of four expects to spend US$2,636 on holidays, an increase of $200 per person compared to 2010.

Cayman Islands Tourism Association executive director Trina Christian welcomed the survey results.

“Amex data is quite useful and it is quite a reliable resource which fits the demographic of our target market and visitors in general,” she said. “As a destination this is positive news; obviously they are speculating and estimating but they do have more insight into consumer spending habits.

“We were really happy about the performance last year and everyone is holding their breath for this year,” Ms Christian said. “Any hopeful news that is on the horizon could potentially show we are going to have a strong season. It is something we like to hear.”

Increased budgets

According to the study, 42 per cent of travellers are looking to increase their budget. Longer trips were planned by 21 per cent, 19 per cent wanted to upgrade accommodation and 17 per cent planned on travelling in larger parties.

The consumers surveyed expressed an interest in more memorable experiences and if the budget was extended by $500, 24 per cent commented they would use this additional money for new experiences as opposed to lengthening their stay, which was favoured by 18 per cent of people.

While during 2010, 61 per cent of Americans said they did not plan to travel at all, the latest survey indicated that figure had dropped to 56 per cent. Generally, too, bookings would be made three months or more in advance, but 21 per cent will book only a month before the holiday with 73 per cent of those people booking only a week before travel, mostly using online travel sites.

New promotion

Ms. Christian said properties had reported Christmas 2011 was looking to be strong for the destination, albeit that traditionally this is normal as a destination. The hopes were that this period could be extended and bookings remained strong.

There is a promotion about to be launched for the first quarter of 2012, which will be based on early bookings. International advertising for this begins at the end of October and the beginning of November, said Ms. Christian, and there are many partners on board for the promotion which highlights culinary aspects.

Summer, 2011 had been quite strong, the executive director said.

“It is a bit of a mixed bag; some businesses performed stronger than others for many different reasons depending on where their clientele is coming from,” Ms Christian said. “But in general the destination performed quite well and we should be happy for it.”

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