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Where To Go Next for Thursday, June 12


Today's Travel News
Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is This You?

Flexibility, choice, authentic experiences and the ability to customize a trip are what people want most in tours and vacation packages, according to a member survey conducted by the U.S. Tour Operators Association. Value for the dollar, enhanced service and new destinations were other elements cited by USTOA members, who send 11 million travelers on vacation yearly. Let's look at what that means.

Flexibility - The survey revealed that, while travelers want the value of a vacation package or tour, they also want flexibility. "People are asking for more free time, more shopping, and greater choice," says Bob Whitley, USTOA president. "Tours today are answering that demand by balancing free time with sightseeing so that there is plenty of freedom for on-your-own activities." Whitley noted that travelers also want centrally located hotels for easy access to major sites they can explore on their own.

Customization - Tailoring trips to fit personal requirements, whether these involve dietary concerns or special interests, is also important, according to the survey. Travelers particularly cite private tours and customized programs that let them match activities to their interests. In fact, the same USTOA member survey revealed that independent customized packages scored the greatest gains in 2007 compared to 2006, with more than 80% of respondents reporting growth in this area.

Enhanced Experiences - Travelers are increasingly asking for experiential vacations. "They want new and authentic experiences, cultural enrichment, and in-depth discoveries," says Whitley. "Travelers want to meet local people and to explore indigenous cultures, rather than take part in traditional tourist activities. Participation in learning experiences is high on travelers' wish lists," says Whitley. Some examples: a tour of the Middle East that includes a short Nile cruise to see how life is lived in rural Egypt, with stops at great archeological treasures along the way; or an included learning activity, such as visiting Aboriginal communities or studying conservation while exploring Australia's Great Barrier Reef.


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