The way Americans view leisure travel and vacations is constantly changing and the people and services related to what is a huge business must change with it.
This was the consensus opinion of the 2,600 delegates of the National Tour Association who met recently in Los Angeles for its annual convention.
The delegates represent packaged travel which was a $76 billion dollar business last year just for Americans traveling within the U.S. Worldwide it was a $166 billion dollar in 2001.
Even before 9/11 the way people traveled for enjoyment was changing and the events that day are only one aspect of what is happening to travel and the people and suppliers who service it.
In the 21th century people "do not want to travel just to look at mountains, they want to climb them." The delegates were told that "we are moving into an era where 'hands on" activities will be the focus of any travel destination.
With these facts self evident in both domestic and international travel Tour Operators, Visitor Bureaus, and all the suppliers of the vast travel industry are busily reinventing the way they do business.
The Tour Operators agreed that all the factors that have made group travel attractive for millions of tourists are still present--conviviality, safety, and carefree advance planning are still present. But now these same clients are demanding activities to fit their individual wants as well whether it be golf, a cooking school or a visit to a local museum.
Changes from September 11th are also apparent. Americans are taking shorter trips to regional destinations and prefer to travel by automobile or motorcoach rather than air. And Visitor Bureaus are becoming more creative in emphasizing the many varied activities their particular locality has to offer. And more and more are directing their advertising and promotional efforts on a specific region and relatively close population centers. Personal service and special interest by a group are still the strong points for packaged travel.
Carol Martinez, speaking for the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, told of new emphasis on marketing cultural attractions, the huge diversity the City offers in some neighborhoods and trips for families that include milti generations.
California was third among the leading state destinations for packaged travelers. Florida first, followed by Nevada, California and New York. The leading cities were Las Vegas, Orlando and Los Angeles, followed by Atlantic City and New York City.
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