USTOA Membership Contributes $16 Billion to Travel Industry

 Friday, December 2, 2022 


An economic impact study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) found that tour operator members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) project to close out 2022 with sales reaching $15.9 billion dollars, representing 6 million individual travelers.

According to the survey, Active Members of USTOA contributed $18.4 billion to the U.S tour operator industry in 2019, serving 7.6 million individual travelers.

“By the close of 2022, USTOA tour operator members report a recovery in sales of 87% from 2019, which is remarkable,” said Terry Dale, president & CEO of USTOA. “Given the unprecedented challenges of the past two years, the numbers align with the reality of what the global travel industry is facing, and yet, the tour segment as represented by our members seems to be pacing ahead of the industry at large*,” he continued.

Looking ahead, member operators are confident about business in 2023: Eight out of 10 members anticipate optimistic to significant growth of 7% to more than 10% next year in both volume of sales and the volume of passengers.

On the jobs front, Active Members project employing 11,650 people in the U.S. by end of 2022. In 2019, USTOA tour operator members employed 13,620 jobs.

Dale reinforced the critical role of travel advisors in the continued success of members’ businesses: Active Members reported that travel agencies are projected to represent 58.4% of total packages sold in 2022. He added, “It is encouraging to see is the strong relationship between our members and advisors has not wavered. The number has barely shifted from the 59% reported for 2019.”

The research was released at USTOA’s Annual Conference & Marketplace, held at the JW Marriott Austin in Austin, TX from November 28-December 2, 2022. Among the other vital statistics revealed:

The projected number of total packages sold in 2022 is roughly 3 million; down 22.6% percent compared to the 3.8 million packages sold in 2019.

While the overall number of packages sold is down compared to pre-pandemic levels, revenue gained per traveler is up 8.9% and revenue per package is up 11.8% in 2022 compared to 2019.

More than half (57%) USTOA Active Members report that the cost of travel packages increased between 10%-24%; while another quarter (29%) report an increase between 1-9%.

Purchases of goods and services for travel packages, including air, rail, cruise, ground transportation, accommodations, dining, and attractions, are projected to reach $11.4 billion for 2022. A 13.4%
decrease from the $13.1 billion goods and services purchased pre-pandemic in 2019.

Global Risks

While the Active Members of USTOA view the upcoming year with optimism, they also addressed the global risks that could impact the industry over the next three years. Increases in the cost of living was ranked highest with two thirds (67%) of members “very to extremely concerned.” Moving down one spot on the list from the 2021 trend survey, half (49%) of tour operator members are “very to extremely concerned” about pandemics and other health crises. Dale added, “This shows that members are not fully passed the worry and challenges brought on by COVID.”

Widespread staffing shortage ranked in third with 59% of members “very to extremely” concerned, followed by global financial instability and war in Europe.

Top Destinations

Italy was named the most popular destination for travelers in 2023. The top 10 “hot” destinations also included Greece, which ranked second, followed by France, United Kingdom, Iceland, Egypt, Spain, Portugal, Jordan, Japan, Maldives, and Ireland.

Active Members identified their top 10 off-the-beaten path or emerging destinations that they see gaining popularity in 2023: Iceland ranked first, Egypt ranked second, followed by Croatia, Colombia, Norway, Antarctica, Portugal, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, and South Africa.

This survey was conducted between August 18 and October 3, 2022 with a 92% participation rate.

*According to the WNTWO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism continued to show strong signs of recovery, with arrivals reaching 57% of pre-pandemic levels in the first seven months of the 2022.

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