Activity sales outpace overall travel market in US

New research shows the US activity market outperformed the overall American leisure travel industry in 2009.

According to a soon-to-be released PhoCusWright study, activities such as sightseeing tours, events and attractions in the United States earned $26.8 billion.

That is more than car rentals ($14.2 billion) and cruise ($12 billion) combined.

The study predicts this trend will continue in 2011, increasing activity sales by a further 13%.

Study sponsor, a tour and experience retailer, said its booking data indicates similar trends world-wide. Despite the recession, Viator said its bookings were strong, unlike many other portions of the travel sector.

“We’ve been watching traveler behavior around trip activities for more than 15 years and we’re in the midst of a shift as travelers are more inclined to purchase trip activities in advance now than even two or three years ago,” said Ms. Barrie Seidenberg, CEO and president, Viator. Inc.

“Hoping to make every dollar count, travelers are carefully researching and planning their travel. Useful tools like access to timely and unbiased reviews by like-minded travelers and finding off-the-beaten track options in real-time are things a concierge or guidebook just can’t deliver in the same way.”

PhoCusWright estimates the portion of sales in the US sold via online intermediaries will have the highest rate of growth of all online channels, doubling by 2012.

They attribute this in part to the fact that more people are going online to find and book experience driven activities.

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