SOURCE: United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA)

January 25, 2007 10:04 ET

Hot Travel Picks for 2007 Soft Adventure, Liquid Vacations and Special Interest

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- January 25, 2007 --Water-oriented vacations -- cruise tours, river touring or visiting inland waterways -- and niche travel are the top picks for packaged travel in 2007, according to an informal member survey conducted by the United States Tour Operators Association. Attesting to the popularity of river and waterway cruises, 33% of USTOA survey respondents reported a plus 40% increase in their river touring programs for 2006 compared to 2005, and 40% saw increases of 10-15%.

As to how people will experience their travels, 27% of survey respondents said soft adventure will be the way to go, followed closely by escorted touring (24%), and independent packages (20%).

Sustenance & Safaris

When asked what type of special interest travel is hottest, culinary and wine tasting placed first, while outdoor experiences such as African safaris and luxury camping in the Australian Outback topped the soft adventure list. "People today are looking for more than just sightseeing. They want to indulge their passions, whether it be food, wine, or the outdoors. They want adventure and they want to learn. However they want comfort with their adventure. They want to go on safari or walking, but, at the end of the day they want to return to comfortable surroundings," says Bob Whitley, USTOA President.

How They Travel & When They Book

Other survey results include:

--  Couples account for the majority of packaged vacation travelers
    according to 65% of operators polled, with families second (cited by nearly
--  67% of USTOA members said that travelers booked their vacations three
    to six months in advance; while 16% said travelers book more than six
    months ahead.

Survey respondents represented 65 of the top brand names in packaged travel, or 72% of USTOA's Corporate members. USTOA member companies have met the travel industry's highest standards, including participation in the USTOA Travelers Assistance Program, which among other things requires each USTOA Active member company to set aside $1 million to reimburse consumers in case the company goes out of business. For more information and a listing of USTOA Member companies, visit