“The booming tourism industry brought in an estimated $717.4 billion in 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a stark downturn in 2020. To come back from this, tour operators need to tap into the biggest demands of tourists. By reaching them through digital channels and appealing to their desire for authenticity and less traditional types of tours, travel tours can make a comeback with services that are popular among the broadest group of travelers.”

Mike Gallinari, Travel & Leisure Analyst

This report will look at the following areas:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior in the travel category
  • What the post-COVID recovery will look like for travel activities
  • The most popular kinds of tours and activities for travelers in different age groups
  • How travelers are discovering new travel activities to try

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Key issues covered in this Report
        • Definitions
        • Executive Summary

          • Market overview
            • Figure 1: Total US tourism expenditures, at current prices, 2014-24
          • Impact of COVID-19 on travel tours and activities
            • Figure 2: Short, medium and longer term impact of COVID-19 on travel tours and activities, April 2020
          • COVID-19 takeaways
            • What tourists are doing
              • Travelers focus on the destination
                • Figure 3: Attitudes toward activities, February 2020
              • Travelers hear about activities through the grapevine
                • Figure 4: Source of discovery for activities, by age group, February 2020
              • Tourists are seeing the sights
                • Figure 5: Types of tours taken, February 2020
              • What tourists want
                • Young tourists want a little mix of tour types
                  • Figure 6: Desired tour types, by age group, February 2020
                • Tourists want immersion, but also efficiency
                  • Figure 7: Attitudes toward benefits of tours, February 2020
                • Tourists want authenticity
                  • Figure 8: Attitudes toward uniqueness of tours
                • What’s next
                • The Market – What You Need to Know

                  • COVID-19 is a punch in the industry’s gut
                    • Approaches for the short, medium, and longer term periods
                      • Successful tour and activity companies are riding modern trends
                        • High levels of satisfaction can drive word of mouth for tours
                          • Sightseeing is ripe for premiumization
                            • History tours need to focus on the learning aspect
                              • Tours help river cruises thrive
                              • Impact of COVID-19 on Travel Tours and Activities

                                  • Figure 9: Short, medium and longer term impact of COVID-19 on travel tours and activities, April 2020
                                • Opportunities and Threats
                                  • Short-term threats
                                    • Short-term opportunities
                                      • Medium-term threats
                                        • Medium-term opportunities
                                          • Longer-term threats
                                            • Longer-term opportunities
                                              • Figure 10: Most anticipated activities post-Covid-19, April 16-24, 2020
                                            • Impact on the travel tours and activities market
                                              • Figure 11: Total US tourism expenditures, at current prices, 2014-24
                                            • How the crisis will affect key consumer segments in travel
                                              • How a COVID-19 recession will reshape the travel industry
                                                • High unemployment will lead to reduced income and cautious spending
                                                  • Figure 12: Initial unemployment claims, weekly, seasonally adjusted, 2000-2020
                                                • Travel spending is quick to be cut
                                                  • Figure 13: Post-covid-19 spending priorities, April 16-24, 2020
                                                  • Figure 14: Expenditures for travel, Consumer Expenditure Interview Survey, 2005–2011
                                                • Low oil prices might provide window of relief
                                                  • Figure 15: Price per single barrel of WTI crude oil, inflation adjusted, 2011-2020
                                                • COVID-19: US context
                                                • Market Size and Forecast

                                                    • Coronavirus overshadows an otherwise healthy tourism industry
                                                        • Figure 16: Total US tourism expenditures, at current prices, 2014-24
                                                    • Market Perspective

                                                      • Tour companies
                                                        • The Travel Corporation is taking young tourists’ concerns to heart
                                                          • TripAdvisor struggles as travelers seek discovery elsewhere
                                                            • Airbnb Experiences growing and ready to take the mantle
                                                              • Operators should promote social sharing
                                                                • Figure 17: Opinions of tour types, February 2020
                                                              • Sightseeing has more appeal with higher-income travelers
                                                                • Figure 18: Appeal of sightseeing, by HHI, Fall 2019
                                                                • Figure 19: Qualities of a luxury travel experience, affluent/high net worth vs all, May 2019
                                                              • Human curiosity can’t be beat
                                                                • Figure 20: Attitudes toward learning, by age group, Fall 2019
                                                              • River cruises anchored by tours
                                                                • Figure 21: Attitudes about cruise itineraries, by preferred cruise type, September 2019
                                                            • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                                                              • Tour operators doing their part for the planet
                                                                • Museums are using VR as a draw
                                                                  • From A to B with sights to see
                                                                    • Gamer guides
                                                                      • Tourism for the people
                                                                      • What’s Happening

                                                                        • Tour industry looking to be a leader in saving the planet
                                                                          • Figure 22: Tourism Declares declaration instructions, March 2020
                                                                        • VR bringing a new dimension to tours
                                                                          • Figure 23: The DuSable Museum and TIME Immersive present “The March”
                                                                        • Daytrip’s car service drives tourists to attraction
                                                                          • Smartphone games can serve as semi-guides
                                                                          • What to Watch

                                                                            • Tours of the future will focus on people
                                                                              • New payments will encourage eco-friendly tours
                                                                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                  • Younger tourists are more active in niche tours
                                                                                    • Guides, nature tours are luxury opportunities
                                                                                      • Word of mouth is the best way to discover activities
                                                                                        • Travel influencers can reach younger tourists
                                                                                          • Traditional tours can choose a unique angle
                                                                                            • Competition from outside the sector makes UVPs difficult for wellness tourism
                                                                                              • Activities take a back seat to the destination
                                                                                                • Tour groups should go small
                                                                                                  • Authenticity counts for a lot
                                                                                                    • Tour and activity segment analysis
                                                                                                    • Types of Tours

                                                                                                      • Four out of five travelers have taken a tour in the past three years
                                                                                                        • Figure 24: Types of tours taken, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Younger travelers are more active and curious
                                                                                                        • Figure 25: Types of tours taken, by age group, February 2020
                                                                                                      • More like his-tour-y
                                                                                                        • Figure 26: History tours taken, by gender and age group, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Guides aren’t a necessity
                                                                                                        • Figure 27: Format of tours taken, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Tour guides have an opportunity with higher income travelers
                                                                                                        • Figure 28: Tours taken, by HHI, February 2020
                                                                                                    • Activity Discovery

                                                                                                      • Word of mouth is the most powerful tool
                                                                                                        • Figure 29: Source of discovery for activities, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Young travelers prefer social discovery over OTAs
                                                                                                        • Figure 30: Source of discovery for activities, by age group, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Uniqueness should be a social and travel media focus
                                                                                                        • Figure 31: Sources of activity discovery, all travelers vs those seeking unique experiences, February 2020
                                                                                                    • Desired Tours

                                                                                                      • Guidance augments free-reign tourist sights
                                                                                                        • Figure 32: Desired tour types, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Traditional tours need a refresh
                                                                                                        • Figure 33: Desired tour types, by age group, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Young travelers see uniqueness in nature, adventure and the macabre
                                                                                                        • Figure 34: Desired tour types, all travelers vs those seeking unique experiences, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Nature tours are a luxury opportunity
                                                                                                        • Figure 35: Desired tour types, by HHI, February 2020
                                                                                                    • Wellness Activities

                                                                                                      • Relaxation and outdoor fitness should be the focus for wellness activities
                                                                                                        • Figure 36: Desired wellness activities, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Activities fall along gender lines
                                                                                                        • Figure 37: Desired wellness activities, by gender, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Wellness a tough sell for older travelers
                                                                                                        • Figure 38: Wellness activities not desired, by age group, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Cultural treatments are an opening for luxury travelers
                                                                                                        • Figure 39: Appeal of cultural wellness treatments, by HHI, February 2020
                                                                                                    • Attitudes toward Tours and Activities

                                                                                                      • Vacations are destination focused
                                                                                                        • Figure 40: Attitudes toward activities, February 2020
                                                                                                      • Consumer thoughts on spending their vacation time
                                                                                                        • Younger travelers put more emphasis on activities
                                                                                                          • Figure 41: Importance of activities, by age group, February 2020
                                                                                                        • Big opportunity for small groups
                                                                                                          • Figure 42: Attitudes toward benefits of tours, February 2020
                                                                                                          • Figure 43: Immersiveness of tours, by age group, February 2020
                                                                                                        • Travelers want authenticity and a trip of “their own”
                                                                                                          • Figure 44: Attitudes toward uniqueness of tours
                                                                                                        • Consumer thoughts on authenticity
                                                                                                          • Don’t get too crazy with tourism marketing…yet
                                                                                                            • Figure 45: Attitudes toward alternate tour access, February 2020
                                                                                                          • Alternate access options are most popular with the least established
                                                                                                            • Figure 46: Attitudes toward alternate tour access, by age group, February 2020
                                                                                                          • Parents are open to a little mystery, and a little work
                                                                                                            • Figure 47: Attitudes toward locality and access among 18-44 year olds, by parental status, February 2020
                                                                                                        • Tourist Segments

                                                                                                            • Factors
                                                                                                              • Figure 48: Travel tours and activities consumer segment breakdown, February 2020
                                                                                                            • Tour and Activity Segments
                                                                                                              • Traditionalists
                                                                                                                • Demographics
                                                                                                                  • Opportunities
                                                                                                                    • Figure 49: Traditionalist segment demographics, February 2020
                                                                                                                  • Checklisters
                                                                                                                    • Demographics
                                                                                                                      • Opportunities
                                                                                                                        • Figure 50: Checklister segment demographics, February 2020
                                                                                                                      • Go-Getters
                                                                                                                        • Demographics
                                                                                                                          • Opportunities
                                                                                                                            • Figure 51: Go-Getter segment demographics, February 2020
                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                          • Data sources
                                                                                                                            • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                                                              • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                                • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                                                                  • Direct marketing creative
                                                                                                                                    • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                                                                          • Figure 52: Total US tourism expenditures and forecast, at current prices, 2014-24

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