Amid national economic uncertainty, the Travel Industry Association (TIA) has released its annual travel forecast, predicting a stable market for leisure travel in 2009 and a measurable decline in business travel.
"Consumers are responding as we might expect during an economic slowdown," TIA Senior Vice President of Research Dr. Suzanne Cook said in a statement. "But travel should not simply be viewed as an economic indicator; it should be seen as a part of the solution to our economic woes. There's no doubt that if we can spur travel, we can help to turn the economy around."
Despite the nation's economic recession and its low consumer confidence, TIA forecasts only a modest decline of 0.2 percent in leisure travel volume for 2008 and 1.3 percent for 2009. The reason, suggests a recent survey by TIA and Ypartnership, is that families are not canceling travel altogether, but rather traveling closer to home and for shorter periods of time. In fact, 71 percent of survey respondents say they intend to take an overnight trip of 50 miles or more from home during the next six months.
Said Dr. Peter Yesawich, chairman of Ypartnership, "The results corroborate what we have been preaching now for several months: American travelers are trading down, but not out."
Projected declines are much larger for business travel volume—at 3.7 percent for 2008 and 2.7 percent for 2009—although a rebound is expected for 2010, when TIA expects business, meeting and convention travel volume to increase by 2 percent.
"By no means is the sky falling," Cook continued. "After years of growth, we're now looking at modest declines. The travel industry can manage the downturn, but it is in the country's interest to stimulate travel as one of the best means to stimulate our economy."
For more information about TIA's travel industry forecast, visit www.tia.org