Latin America Travel Trends: Culture, history and heritage top reasons for travel
The Latin American Travel Association (LATA) has revealed the results of the 2017 LATA Travel Trends Report. LATA surveyed 3641 consumers about their travel habits. 19% of respondents had travelled to Latin America in the last two years with the largest share (25%) falling into the 65+ age category followed by the 25-34 age category (representing 21%) and the 55-64 age category (representing 18%).
Although the age spread is varied, it’s worth noting that the over 55s account for a significant 43%.
When asked what elements were included in their holiday, the most popular attribute was culture, history and heritage which was selected by 56% of participants who had visited the region. This was followed by wildlife and nature (46%) and walking and trekking (30%).
When asked what words or phrases most apply to Latin America, those who had travelled to the region chose the following four descriptions: beautiful (79%), distinct culture (78%), exciting (63%) and breathtaking (58%). Those that hadn’t travelled to the region weren’t quite so enamoured and opted for distinct culture (65%), beautiful (58%), out-of-the-ordinary (48%) and exciting (46%).
Looking at competitor destinations, Asia stands out with 21% of respondents who have holidayed in Asia over the last two years having considered, and discounted, a Latin American alternative. The types of trips taken bear a striking similarity to the types of trips taken in Latin America, with key themes including culture, history & heritage, walking & trekking and wildlife & nature.
13% of those who have travelled to the Caribbean, 11% of this who have travelled to Africa and 7% of those who have travelled to North America or Australasia in the last two years considered and discounted Latin America as an alternative travel destination.
Travel industry results
Over 40 UK tour operators were surveyed of which 59% are Latin American specialists. In terms of types of holidays sold, the three most popular categories included wildlife and nature (86%), culture, history and heritage (81%) and luxury (78%).
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Looking specifically at the Latin American region, over 62% of tour operator respondents reported a growth in bookings in 2016 (vs 2015). For the first quarter of 2017, 81% of tour operators have seen a growth in bookings to Latin America compared to the same period 2016. An overwhelming 76% of bookings are made directly with the tour operator (rather than via a travel agent).
The most popular type of booking to Latin America was 1. multi-destination trips, 2. Tailor-made holidays and 3. highlights tours.
The largest share of tour operator sales to Latin America in the last two years is amongst the 55-64 age group accounting for 29%, followed by the 45-54 age group (23%) and the 65+ age group (20%). 52% of bookings are couples, 18% families, 17% groups and 13% solo travellers.
Barriers to booking
47% of tour operators claim that the main barrier to booking a Latin American holiday is cost, 18% claim it is due to distance a/o length of travel and 15% cite concerns around the zika virus.
Destinations seeing the largest amount of growth over the last two years include Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Colombia.
Travel agent feedback
LATA surveyed 254 travel agents. When asked how confident they felt when selling trips to key destinations, Latin America came at the bottom of the list behind Europe, North America, Asia, the Caribbean, Australasia and Africa. The same applied when asked to rank the destinations in terms of the ease of earning commissions. In this instance, Asia came out on top, followed by Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Australasia, Africa and then Latin America.
When asked what one factor would help sell more holidays to Latin America, 52% cited a better knowledge of the destination. Similarly, when asked what the travel industry could do to help sell more holidays, 52% opted for training (to increase product knowledge).