From TravelMole newsletter:
Despite a recent deluge of bad economic news, American travelers are
surprisingly optimistic about their future leisure travel and
spending, according to the findings of a special edition of
Destination Analysts' The State of the American Traveler survey
released today.

The survey of 800 American leisure travelers conducted in mid-November
shows that while the public is still hesitant to travel and spend at
levels seen just one year ago, positive signs have emerged. In July of
this year, traveler sentiment dramatically darkened, with the percent
of American leisure travelers saying they were planning to travel less
for leisure jumping to 28.8 percent.

In this most recent survey, however, this figure retreated to 21.2
percent. In addition, when asked about their spending priorities in
the next six months, one-third of survey respondents identified
leisure travel as a "high" or "very high" priority. Nevertheless,
while this encouraging outcome is certainly good news for the
industry, when considered in historical context, traveler expectations
for the future are still extremely weak.

Since the summer survey, retail gasoline prices have been cut roughly
in half and airfares have sharply fallen, which may account for these
nominal improvements in traveler sentiment. Americans are profoundly
automobile-centric in how they travel for leisure and fluctuations in
gasoline prices weigh heavily on their minds when planning leisure
trips. In fact, this most recent survey showed a continued increase in
the percent of leisure travelers who say that gasoline prices have led
them to cut back on their leisure travel. When asked what factors may
have led them to travel less than they would have otherwise preferred
in the past 12 months, fully 68.5 percent of Americans now cited
gasoline prices, up from 57.8 percent in July. Personal financial
reasons and high airfares have also become increasingly detrimental to
leisure travel, both jumping sharply in the most recent survey.

In this climate of economic uncertainty, travelers are showing a
marked interest in travel deals and offers. Fully 65.6 percent of
leisure travelers say that they will be actively looking for travel
deals or bargains when planning their travel in the next 12 months, up
from 53.3 percent in July. In questions asked throughout the survey,
travelers expressed an elevated level of interest in saving money on
their travels, again highlighting the need for travel businesses and
organizations to clearly show a value proposition to their customers.

Destination Analysts is a San Francisco based market research company
specializing in the travel, tourism and lifestyle industries. Founded
in 2003, the company provides innovative research solutions to
organizations charged with growing the economic impact of tourism to
their business or community.

Destination Analysts typically conducts The State of the American
Traveler survey every six months. This special edition of the survey
was conducted online amongst a nationally representative sample of
adult Americans. From November 18th-20th, surveys were collected from
a group of respondents who had traveled at least once in the past 12
months for purely leisure or personal reasons. In total, 800 leisure
travelers completed the survey, which has a reliability of +/- 3.5%.

Thanks to Lan Sluder of