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Americans Are Ready to Hit the Road – and Tournaments

13 Aug, 2020

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Who’s ready to travel again? Americans, that’s who. A pair of recent surveys has identified a keen need to get away, with people seeking both adventure travel and get-away road trips in the company of their family, within the boundaries of the U.S. And both of those bode well for the sports tourism economy, which is rebounding more each day.

According to findings from Outdoorsy’s first in a series of Road to Wellness national surveys, conducted on July 7 in order to obtain real-time perspective on outdoor travel sentiment 94% of North Americans reported they are happier and healthier when spending time outdoors.

And the adults involved in organized youth sports are getting eager to get their kids back out on the playing field. In Massachusetts, more than 15,000 individuals — mostly parents and coaches, according to the Boston Herald — signed a petition asking Gov. Charlie Baker to let the games resume. (This is not a unique situation, having happened in areas of Missouri and California as well).

Overall, 88% of people who answered Outdoorsy’s survey said they wanted to get back outside again. The survey noted that 71% of respondents who had to cancel their summer travel plans are now considering alternative vacation options, such as a road trip. (And road is the preferred option, with parents preferring to drive over flying). This could enhance business in drive-to markets.

Sports events held in destinations that cater to family businesses are primed to reap the rewards of a pent-up demand; 70% of respondents to the survey noted they would rather go on a road trip with family or a significant other than go alone.

“The survey found an overwhelmingly positive sentiment to family road travel and anecdotal reports found that family ties were strengthened in direct correlation to the amount of time a family spends together in nature,” said Jen Young, Outdoorsy’s CEO. “We are seeing more and more people enjoy the silver linings from this unique and challenging time as they head for the open road to reconnect with themselves, their families, and the benefits of the outdoors.”

Another factor that plays in the favor of road trips is low gas prices and the fact that many parents are now working from home.

View additional findings of Outdoorsy’s Road to Wellness survey here.

Another survey, this one pertaining to adventure travel, (a type of niche tourism that typically involves exploration or travel that requires special skills and/or physical exertion) found that adventure travel is expected to rebound more quickly than luxury or leisure travel. And with many amateur athletes defining adventure as bicycle trips (gran fondos or other point-to-point rides) or races (such as marathons, half marathons or endurance runs) – or even travel to participate in multi-sport events such as senior games – this bodes well for sports tourism.

In fact, the U.S. Adventure Traveler Sentiment June/July 2020 report revealed that U.S. consumers of ATTA adventure tour operators are expected to resume near pre-COVID-19 level travel spending in 2021 — spending only an estimated 7 percent less than their 2019 travel expenditure. And the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), which produced the report, points out that this is an especially resilient sector of the travel market.

“The ATTA survey findings are consistent with the patterns we are seeing in our ongoing tracking of general U.S. travel consumers where we have identified a segment of the population more likely to resume travel once travel restrictions are lifted. This segment, representing approximately 25 percent of the total travel population, is seeking immersive adventure and cultural experiences and will help drive tourism recovery,” said Joe Naaman, a Partner at Twenty31 Consulting in New York.

The multi-topic 55-page U.S. Adventure Traveler Sentiment report is available here.

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