August 31, 2011 11:29 ET

Travelers Increasingly Conscious of Uncertain Economy According to ALTOUR Agents, Even as Industry Continues to Stabilize

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Aug 31, 2011) - Despite global forebodings of a double dip recession, the leisure travel industry continues to flourish according to the most recent ALTOUR Index, a bi-monthly survey of ALTOUR's expert travel agents. Travel spending remains steady despite travelers' rising concerns over recent economic turbulence at home and abroad. Travelers also continue to seek out destinations that are further afield than ever: still another indication that despite travelers' new concerns, the leisure travel industry is continuing its steady recovery.

The instability of today's global economy is not lost on travelers, a fact that is reflected in August's ALTOUR Index. Though "political instability" was rated as the number one concern for travelers, it changed only a single percentage point between June and August. "Airline policies/fees" was the second highest rated concern but also changed only a single point between June and August. The economy, however, saw a major jump. The economy was not reported even once as a principal concern during June, but in August it accounted for 9% of responses. This response is made all the more remarkable by the fact that "the economy" is not a set response, but a fill in answer represented on this graph by the "other" option, meaning that it is highly likely the actual number is far higher than this survey suggests.

The problem is a combination of problems at home and abroad according to ALTOUR experts. Gail Carpenter from ALTOUR's Cincinnati, OH office has noticed that clients are mentioning more and more that their own fluctuating investments are giving them pause. She notes, "My clients are watching their IRAs and stocks to see if this uncertainty levels out. Confidence just isn't that high." Victoria Pandolfo in ALTOUR's Oak Brook, IL office concurs, but adds that it's not all about conditions stateside but an increasing worry about currency exchange. "Clients are very worried about their IRA accounts, 401k and other investments here having no value, and people are also increasingly upset about the devaluation of the US dollar."

Though anxieties have risen in the past months, numbers continue to grow steadily if not dramatically: a good indicator of the overall health of the industry. The August 2011 Index reported that an encouraging 53% of agents surveyed indicated clients were traveling more than they were during this time last year and an additional 31% reported the rate stayed constant.

This is especially encouraging considering reports from previous years during the same period. Looking at the numbers of Independent Travelers (ITs) in particular demonstrates that for the past two years, travel during the late summer has risen significantly and indicates a clear improvement compared to the recession ravaged numbers of three years ago. This continued growth offers an encouraging sign that last year was not a fluke but a sign of sustained recovery industry-wide.

Not only are travelers continuing to come to ALTOUR specialists and traveling more often, but also they are traveling further afield than before. This past March's ALTOUR Index revealed that thirty-six agents saw their clients heading further abroad than before, while two months later forty-eight agents saw travelers heading to more exotic locales. While some of this phenomenon could be attested to the possibility for longer and more distant vacations during the summer, agents themselves see this willingness to explore further as a direct result of the industry's continued recovery. Said ALTOUR's Terry Wollison, "Clients that have grown more confident and seem to have 'pent up' demand for travel. Many skipped their vacations last year or decided to drive somewhere close by, so this year they are ready for a nice drawn out vacation to somewhere truly exotic."

The ALTOUR group is a global travel and services organization with a workforce of more than 1,000 professionals in sixty-eight offices spread across three continents. With a $1.2 billion turnover in 2010, ALTOUR is a recognized as an international industry leader providing essential travel and service solutions the world over. The company's core remains its renowned business travel capabilities, though ALTOUR has divisions dedicated to such diverse fields as leisure travel, performance improvement, sports travel, entertainment travel, as well as meetings and events services. ALTOUR's principal divisions are complemented by flexible sister companies providing private charter jet and limousine services. ALTOUR is 14th on Travel Weekly's 2010 "Power List" of the best travel agencies in the United States, and is included in the "Top Travel Agencies in the UK" by Buying Business Travel. The Los Angeles Business Journal ranks ALTOUR as one of the best two travel agencies in Los Angeles County, and also recognizes the company as one of the "Best Places to Work in Los Angeles" for 2010. For more information or to learn how to contact an agent, please visit