The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) released new findings from a survey of its tour operator active members following the European Union’s announcement on Aug. 30 to remove the United States from its “safe list.” Roughly nine out of 10 (88 percent) of USTOA active members that responded to the survey operate tours or packaged travel itineraries to Europe.

According to the survey, three-fourths (74 percent) of USTOA active members that operate in Europe reported guests with existing 2021 European bookings postponed their travel and rebooked for a later departure date following the EU announcement that moved the U.S. to the red list. Two-thirds (60 percent) of respondents said guests with existing bookings to EU countries reacted by cancelling their 2021 European travel.

“What we have heard from our tour operator members is that the EU policy change—and the resulting news coverage—immediately raised confusion among travelers, along with hesitation and doubts about their ability to proceed with European vacation plans this year. In fact, vaccinated Americans, for the most part, can move forward with their travel plans to Europe and many of our members have been operating travel programs and tours successfully in Europe for months,” said  Terry Dale, USTOA president and CEO in a press statement.

Dale continued, “However, it is encouraging that despite the influence of the EU news more than three fourths (79 percent) our tour operator members reported having guests who are proceeding with their booked 2021 Europe travel.”

To gauge the overall impact that the EU announcement has had on tour operators’ current European operations, USTOA asked its active members to select all statements that applied:

  • Nearly half (4percent) reported no changes in their operations
  • Half (47 percent) said they are cancelling departures
  • Less than half (42 percent) said they are running downsized groups due to cancellations
  • More than a third (37 percent) report that they are operating few departures by consolidating or canceling departures

Operations Outside of Europe 

Only a third (33 percent) of active members said that the recent EU announcement impacted existing bookings to other destinations in the world. The remaining two thirds (67 percent) reported no impact on their existing bookings to destinations outside of Europe.

Of the third (33 percent) of active members who reported seeing an impact on existing bookings to other destinations, roughly 88 percent said passengers to non-European destinations are postponing their trips, while a quarter (25 percent) reported passengers are cancelling trips to non-European destinations.

Conversely, roughly 19 percent of active members said they’ve seen an increase in non-European destination bookings because of the EU policy change.

Bookings

Following the EU announcement, two thirds (68 percent) of tour operator members reported a decrease in overall demand for new bookings compared to the weeks prior to the announcement. The remaining third (32 percent) saw no change in overall demand for new bookings following the news.

The Active Member survey was completed on Sept. 13, with an 83 percent response rate of active member brands. The surveys are a key part of USTOA’s ongoing efforts to support and inform its membership and the industry throughout the coronavirus crisis.

For more information on USTOA, visit ustoa.com.

Check out, USTOA forecasted Travel Recovery in 2021. And, don’t miss, “Global Trade Discusses the State of International Travel.”