Last updated: 05:31 PM ET, Thu July 02 2015

Travel Leaders Group Survey Susses Out Interest In Cuba

Destination & Tourism | Travel Leaders Group | Claudette Covey | May 21, 2015

Travel Leaders Group Survey Susses Out Interest In Cuba

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Few would argue that interest in Cuba as a travel destination is growing. Yet, in a wide-ranging Travel Leaders Group survey, only 8.8 percent of 3,371 U.S. respondents said they would visit the destination as soon as all restrictions were lifted. And just 14.9 percent said they would travel to Cuba when they felt it was properly prepared to receive U.S. tourists.

Still, the percentages are up over last year, when 6.9 percent said they would travel to Cuba as soon as all restrictions where lifted, and 11.5 percent said they would visit when they believed the country was ready to receive Americans. Two percent said they had already visited Cuba.

The survey also indicated that Americans nonetheless had a fair amount of interest in traveling to the destination at some point, with 35.4 percent saying they would consider it, up from 32.4 percent last year. And the number of people averse to traveling there had dropped from 47.6 percent last year to 39 percent this year. 

“Cuba has frequently been in the headlines as U.S. relations normalize. Our survey demonstrates there are definitely intrepid travelers who can’t wait to experience Cuba as it is today, before commercialization and modernization change it dramatically,” said Barry Liben, CEO of Travel Leaders Group. “For now, over 35 percent of those polled seem to be taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. In some respects, that’s understandable. Travelers have cultivated their dream wish lists for years and, for the most part, Cuba wasn’t a legal option until very recently.”

Less surprising was the fact that Australia was listed as respondents’ ultimate dream destination. “Every other year, since 2009, we’ve surveyed consumers on their ‘dream international destination’ and Australia has always been on top,” said Liben. “From its cosmopolitan cities and rugged outback to its wine country and amazing coastal regions, including the Great Barrier Reef, there is a phenomenal amount to see and do in Australia – and language really isn’t a barrier for Americans.”

Australia was followed by Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, Mediterranean cruising, Bora Bora, Fiji, Europe river cruising, Tahiti and Antarctica.

“Whether 2015 is the year Americans tackle their bucket list, we do know that 85.2 percent indicated they will spend the same or more on leisure travel this year,” Liben said. “That’s a very good indicator of economic confidence.”

In still more good news for the economy, more than 93 percent of respondents said they “have or will take” at least one leisure trip this year, while almost 92 percent they will take the same number or more vacations than in 2014.

Meanwhile, 70.9 percent of respondents said they would travel beyond their own U.S. home states beyond bordering states; 42.5 percent said they restrict travel within their home states; 36.7 percent said they would visit bordering states; 31.9 percent said they would travel to Canada, Mexico and/or the Caribbean, and 23.5 percent said they would visit Europe.

Lastly, 47.3 percent of respondents said they planned to rent a car this year during a vacation. More than 42 percent (42.9 percent) said they were “extremely” or “very frustrated” by how high taxes are on rental cars, and 30.2 percent stated they were either “somewhat” or “slightly” frustrated.

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