Italy Scores as 2005 Top Destination for Vacation Packages & Tours

USTOA Poll Reveals Croatia, China Hot for 2006
NEW YORK, NY — (MARKET WIRE) — 12/28/2005 — The United States Tour Operators Association — whose members account for the vacations of more than 10.5 million travelers yearly — has revealed the year’s top destinations and trends for packaged travel. Despite the high Euro, Italy once again ranked number one as this year’s most popular international destination for tours and packages, while France was a distant second. Colorado and California tied with Alaska as most popular U.S. destinations, according to an informal 2005 survey of the organization’s member companies.

The most popular international cities for packages and tours were Rome and Paris. Among responding tour operators, the American West and Yellowstone tied for most popular region.

Significantly, when asked about prices compared to last year, 94% of responding USTOA tour operators serving Europe replied that 2005 prices to Europe had risen by 10-15%, while 70% of tour operators serving North America reported price increases of less than 10%.

China and South America were cited as the hottest up-and-coming destinations for packages and tours, with Croatia a close second. However, when asked what will be hot for 2006, Croatia led the way, followed by China.

Greece represented the best value for the dollar, followed closely by Eastern Europe, Mexico, the U.S. and China.

As for top trends in vacation packages and tours, three major areas were cited:

– Inclusive resorts and vacations combining multiple elements such as
meals and activities into one package;
– Multiple destination itineraries visiting several countries,
especially in Asia;
– Family vacations.

Sixty-five percent of responding USTOA members reported that they have family-oriented tours and packages, 40% said they also offer adults-only vacations, and 25% provide senior discounts.
Survey respondents represented 75 of the top brand names in packaged travel, or an estimated 60% of USTOA’s membership. These companies have met the travel industry’s highest standards. For more information and a listing of USTOA Member companies, visit www.ustoa.com.

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