Domestic Travel Became Even More Dominant for Americans Last Year

Domestic trips have always had the largest slice of the U.S. leisure travel pie, and over the past year, that trend has been even more acute.

U.S. travelers took nearly 14 million more trips in the United States than international trips during the 12-month stretch ending in February, according to MMGY‘s 2017 Portrait of the American Traveler report, citing concerns about political climates and safety abroad as likely reasons for the bump in domestic trips.

Domestic vacations made up 85 percent of total vacations taken by Americans, up seven percentage points from the prior year, based on MMGY’s survey of nearly 3,000 U.S. leisure travelers ages 18 and older in February.

Respondents had an annual household income $50,000 or more and took at least one leisure trip 75 miles or more from home during the year that required overnight accommodations.

When MMGY surveyed U.S. travelers in 2016, some 34 percent of respondents said their domestic vacations were to new destinations, while this year 40 percent said their vacation was to somewhere they’d never been.

MMGY didn’t ask respondents for the reasons they were taking more domestic trips, said Steve Cohen, vice president of insights at the marketing agency, but terrorism is a likely motivator in helping some travelers decide to not travel internationally.

“Terrorism tends to impact people who travel less frequently,” Cohen said. “But consider the ease of traveling domestically versus internationally; domestic travel is usually much easier for most people.”

Yet, despite the increase in interest in domestic travel, respondents indicated they were interested in 20 percent fewer destinations this year compared to 2016 [see chart below].

Respondents were asked which U.S. cities and regions they were interested in visiting during the next two years. The top 10 cities with the highest percentages of interest, such as New York City and Las Vegas, all had less interest this year.

Overall, respondents expressed interest in visiting 20 destinations during the next two years, down from 16 destinations when this question was posed in 2016.

Cohen said when interest in a destination is down by fewer than 20 percentage points year-over-year, “they’re doing pretty well.”


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