Tour operators feeling good about 2020

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USTOA CEO Terry Dale at the association's Annual Conference and Marketplace.
USTOA CEO Terry Dale at the association's Annual Conference and Marketplace.

ORLANDO -- Tour operators are optimistic about 2020 despite the upcoming election year and a potential economic slowdown, the U.S. Tour Operators Association said at its Annual Conference and Marketplace.

A survey of USTOA members found that 82% anticipate growth in 2020 and nearly half (45%) are "optimistic" and forecasting a "boom year" with growth anywhere from 7% to 10% and higher. 

"This is particularly encouraging, especially as we approach an election year, where historically consumer spending is more conservative," said USTOA CEO Terry Dale.

That is not lost on members, who cited the election, recession and global financial instability as the top three potential threats to 2020 travel confidence. Last year, the top threats were terrorism, political instability and overtourism. 

The 2020 optimism comes off a successful 2019, when 69% of USTOA members report having increased sales. Dale called that number "amazing considering 2018 was such a robust year for our members."

Emerging destinations

Egypt topped the list of top "emerging destinations" for 2020 in a USTOA member survey, which Dale called "the epitome of a destinations comeback story."

Egypt tied Colombia and Croatia, followed by Slovenia, which made an appearance on the list for the first time.

Members were also asked what destinations travelers should choose to see now based on threats like overcrowding and climate change. Not surprisingly, the top answers were Antarctica and Macchu Picchu. Venice and the Great Barrier Reef tied for third.  

The most popular destinations overall were all in Europe: Italy was No. 1, followed by France, Spain, Greece and the U.K., the last three in a tie for third place. Domestically, California topped the list, followed by New York. Florida and Nevada tied for third.

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