March 8, 2021


Just Do Travel

Tour Operator Insights On the Future of Travel

2 min read

Happy New Year to our travel advisor partners! Better yet, goodbye 2020. In 2021, USTOA tour operators are looking forward to growth in new bookings, rising demand for travel products and a continued partnership with travel advisors.

In a survey of USTOA tour operator members, two-thirds (69 percent) of respondents said they are confident or highly confident that guest bookings will increase in the new year. Plus, nine out of 10 members noted that their company’s outlook for the resumption of business in 2021 is optimistic or cautiously optimistic.

The Key Role Agents Play

Reinforcing the significant contribution travel advisors make to USTOA members’ businesses, 88 percent of responding members plan to utilize them to generate sales as they resume business in 2021, while 80 percent reported that they will play a very important or important role in their business in 2021. Three-fourths (72 percent) expect business booked by travel advisors to increase or remain the same in 2021.

Half (49 percent) operated or will have operated tours/packaged travel itineraries between July and December 2020.

Wellness Protocols

USTOA also asked what feedback tour operators received from customers who traveled with new wellness protocols put in place. Nearly two-thirds reported that the protocols had virtually no impact on the guest experience. It’s a positive sign, surely, that clients want to travel and are willing to comply with protocols to be able to do so.

Respondents reported that, based on new reservations for 2021, “hot” international destinations include Italy, followed by Ireland and Germany, with Greece and the U.K. tied for third.

Top U.S. Destinations

Alaska, Arizona and California tied as the top domestic destinations, with Florida and Utah tied for second, followed by Wyoming coming in as third.

Based on new customer bookings, Active Members named small group tours as the most popular travel product for 2021. Private groups ranked second, followed by FIT, river cruising, small-ship cruising and classic group tours (25-plus passengers). Ocean cruising (medium to large ships) was named the least popular.

These insights from USTOA members are promising and illustrate just how resilient the travel industry can be. The future will hold new challenges for tourism, but also new opportunities.

Here’s to 2021!