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US, UK and Japan Named Top Travel Destinations in New Survey

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The United States, United Kingdom and Japan have been voted the top global travel destinations among 11,620 respondents from 23 countries and territories around the world (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mainland China, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States and the United Arab Emirates), according to the Visa Global Travel Intentions Survey 2011.

20% of respondents surveyed said they are likely to travel to the United States for leisure in the next two years. The United Kingdom followed closely behind in second place with 19% of the respondents indicating they are likely to travel there for their holiday, followed by Japan (16%) and France and Italy (both 15%).

Ross Jackson, Head of Cross-Border Business, Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, Visa, said, With great cultural diversity, amazing scenery and a shopping paradise for holidaymakers, it is no surprise that one in five people say they are likely to visit the US in the next two years. The competitive exchange rates preceding the survey would have helped make the US an even more appealing destination to international travelers. The UK was cited as the second favorite destination and of those who want to visit UK, 27% said they are likely to attend a sporting event. The upcoming London 2012 Olympic Games could be a pull factor and it is an indication that sport tourism is proving to be a growing attraction for today's travelers.

While Japan has always been a firm favorite among travelers from Asia Pacific as has been noted in both this year's and our previous surveys, we re-ran the survey in two of Japans key source markets, Mainland China and South Korea, in August this year to assess how much the March tsunami affected traveler sentiments. The survey, very encouragingly, found that Chinese and South Korean respondents still rank Japan among their top destinations. More than one in three (34%) respondents from Mainland China and one in four (24%) respondents from South Korea said they are likely to travel to Japan in the next two years. This is in line with Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Destination Trends3 that international arrivals to Japan have picked up slightly post-tsunami. Our survey findings present great news hinting at a strong recovery and boost for the afflicted Japanese economy, said Jackson.

The research shows that the global average spend for the last trip taken by respondents in the past two years was US$1,481, rising to an expected global average of US$1,895 when travelling in the forthcoming two years. Results from the survey also reveal that the highest spenders were respondents from Australia who spent an average of US$3,636 in their last trip.

Respondents from Saudi Arabia were the next highest spenders who spent an average of US$3,129 on their last trip. Projected spending in the next two years also demonstrates that respondents from Australia again look to be the highest spenders, with a projected average travel budget of US$3,582.

The survey also found the availability of good deals (70%), natural scenery (69%), political stability and good weather (both 66%), and new destinations (65%) as top factors which influence travelers choice of destinations.

On average, respondents are planning to make four international trips in the next two years, with 11% more respondents intending to travel in the next two years, compared with the last two years. Most travelers indicated they intend to spend an average of 10 nights on their next vacation.

Other Key Findings

Travel Style: Almost half of all those surveyed (47%) said they intend to arrange their trips themselves by booking directly with hotels and airlines. Flexible individual tours which allow travelers to choose their own activities are the next most preferred way to travel (28%), followed by packaged group tours (18%). Before leaving for their trip, global travelers are most likely to get their travel information from online sources (55%) rather than offline sources (43%). Top websites among global respondents included TripAdvisor (29%), Travelocity (29%) and Lonely Planet (23%).

Travel Activities: More than three in five (62%) respondents said they are likely to engage in outdoor activities when they are on an overseas holiday trip. Half of all those surveyed (50%) intend to sample local cuisine and experience the local nightlife scene (49%). Travelers are also seeking to take up beauty/ health and wellness treatments (37%) and attend music events as well as learn a new skill (both 36%) in their upcoming holidays.

Accommodation: Travelers surveyed are most keen to stay at three to four-star hotels (52%), followed by stay-overs at their friends or relatives (16%). Budget hotels and hotels rated five-star and above (both 14%) are equally popular among travelers.

Travel Companions: Most travelers tend to holiday with their spouse or partner, with 43% saying they are intending to do so in the next two years. Holidaying with family and relatives (40%) is the next most popular choice, followed by traveling with friends (23%).

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