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Branson News ...page three

Branson NewsFUNNIEST QUESTIONS ASKED BY TOURISTS

Washington -- IN CELEBRATION OF NATIONAL TOURISM WEEK May 6-12, 2001

The opportunity to disengage your brain for some true relaxation is one of the greatest attributes of leisure travel. A fringe benefit for travel industry employees is the comic relief that comes from serving people who sometimes have too much fun to think. Just ask them about the questions travelers pose when they're away from home - the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) did as part of our celebration of National Tourism Week May 6-12 and the tourist that is in every one of us.

THE TOP FUNNIEST QUESTIONS
Does the river come back to the same spot where we put in? (from a whitewater rafter)
Does the sun set every night?
Are the Amish in season?
How long is a one-day pass good for?
What time does the 9 o'clock ferry leave?
How many miles of undiscovered cave are there?
Why is the CLOSED FOR CLEANING sign on the rest room?
When do they turn off the waterfalls? (at Yosemite National Park)
How come all of the war battles were fought in National Parks?
Why don't you have better marking in the places where trails do not exist?
Is that the same moon we see in Vermont?
Does the bus tour go the same places that the boat tour does?
Why don't you have more signs saying to keep the area pristine?
How much does it cost to mail a letter to the U.S.? (from an American tourist in Hawaii)
Are you expecting any earthquakes?
If it rains, will the fireworks be held inside?
Will I need my passport when I get off the ferry on Nantucket?
Do you serve breakfast? (at a bed and breakfast)
Is the horse manure on the square real?
When your fish die, do you flush them down the toilet like we do at home? (at an aquarium)
When do the caribou turn into moose?
What is the altitude? (on a boat passing through the fjords of Alaska's Inside Passage)
At what time of the year are the fewest Californians here?
I've heard about the jazz funerals in New Orleans. When can I go to one?

This selection of questions was culled from more than 400 submissions from travel and tourism companies and destinations from all segments of the industry.

RURAL TOURISM:

SMALL TOWNS AND VILLAGES APPEAL TO U.S. TRAVELERS
Washington DC -- Rural tourism appeals to many Americans, with 62 percent of all U.S. adults taking a trip to a small town or village in the U.S. within the past three years, according to a special Travel Poll by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). This translates to 86.8 million U.S. adults. A majority of these trips were for leisure purposes (86%) and, by far, the most popular reason overall for traveling to a small town or rural area is to visit friends or relatives (44%). Travel Poll results are based on a representative sample survey of 1,300 U.S. adults.

"These numbers show there is definitely a market for rural attractions," said William S. Norman, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America. "Small-town America appeals to many travelers because of its unique charm, in addition to the wide variety of activities and history. The quiet pace is an alternative to the hustle and bustle of larger cities."

Baby Boomer travelers seem to find rural travel especially appealing, as this age group is more likely than younger or older travelers to visit small towns or villages for reasons other than visiting friends and relatives.

Spouses are the companions of choice, with 55 percent of rural travelers taking their spouse along. Children are also popular companions (33%). Six percent of rural travelers go with their parents and 17 percent travel with other family members. Some travel with friends (11%) or as part of a group tour (3%). Another 11 percent travel alone.

Dining out (70%) and shopping (58%) top the list of activities by travelers to small towns or villages. Other popular activities include going to a beach, lake, or river (44%), visiting historical sites (41%), fishing, hunting, or boating (32%), and attending a festival or fair (29%). One in four travelers go bike riding or hiking (24%) or attend a religious service (23%). About one in five travelers go camping (21%) or participate in a sporting event (18%). Smaller numbers of travelers visit a winery, working farm, or orchard (15%), go gambling (12%), or visit a Native American community (11%).

Not surprisingly, Generations X and Y and Baby Boomers are more likely than Matures to go to a beach/lake/river or go fishing/hunting/boating while visiting a small town or village. They are also more inclined to participate in outdoor activities, such as bike riding, hiking, camping or attending a sporting event. On the other hand, historical sites are more popular among Baby Boomers and Matures.

In general, rural travelers most often stay at a hotel or motel (42%) or at a friend's or relative's home (36%). Some stay in a camper, trailer, RV or tent (7%) or a cabin, condominium, or vacation home (6%). Only one percent of rural travelers stay at bed and breakfast establishments. Nine percent of visits to small towns or villages are day trips. Younger travelers generally have less income, so it's not surprising that Generations X and Y (51%) are much more likely than Baby Boomers (28%) or Matures (30%) to stay with friends or relatives on this type of trip.

For their most recent trip to a small town or village, 43 percent of rural travelers heard about the destination from friends or relatives. One in four (25%) travelers said the

TIA is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $552 billion travel industry. TIA's mission is to represent the whole of the U.S. travel industry to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States.

TIA RELEASES TWO STUDIES ON E-TRAVEL CONSUMERS

New York, NY --Travelers' use of the Internet to plan and book their trips continues to grow at a rapid rate, according to two new reports released today by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). More than 59 million online travelers used the Internet last year to get information on destinations or to check prices or schedules, growing 395 percent in the past three years. Of that group, 25 million actually purchased travel products or services online during 2000, representing a 384 percent growth from 1997.

"The tremendous increase in Internet usage by travelers signifies a major shift in consumer preference when it comes to planning and booking travel," remarked William S. Norman, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America. "The Internet has put consumers in control of their plans and they like it. They're able to gather all the facts they need and compare prices and options to obtain what they feel is the best deal possible."

Not surprisingly, the increase in online travel planning and booking is having an effect on the travel industry. TIA's data shows that online travel planners are using travel agents, and phone calls to airlines and tourism offices less often since they started using the Internet for travel planning. And they're not using the phone as often to make hotel and car rental plans. It's interesting to note that many online planners still use travel media sources such as newspaper travel sections and travel guides as often or even more often than before. However, as with travelers overall, friends and family continue to be one of the most favored sources for information.

Online leisure travel planners, or E-travel consumers, don't plan very far in advance of their trips, with one-third (33%) going online within two weeks of their trip to plan and book their vacations. This is why it's so important for travel Web sites to have up-to-date destination information such as local event calendars, maps, dining information, sightseeing and more.

Other Facts About E-Travel Consumers

MATURE TRAVELERS COMPRISE NEARLY ONE-THIRD OF ALL U.S. TRAVEL

Washington DC -- A new report from the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) shows that the demographic profile of Mature travelers (age 55 or older) has changed considerably since 1994. According to The Mature Traveler, 2000 Edition, many more domestic trips are taken by Mature travelers who have completed college, have an annual household income of $75,000 or more and who are more technologically savvy than five years ago. And they’re spending more money too, with the average spending on a trip rising 10 percent to $431 (excluding transportation to destination), up from $390 in 1994.

Mature travelers took nearly 179 million trips in 1999, an increase of five percent over 1994, accounting for three in ten (31%) of all domestic trips*. In comparison, the highest share of domestic trips (45%) is by baby boomers.

"This report looks at one of the most important demographic trends affecting the travel industry today," said William S. Norman, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America. "The potential of the mature market is tremendous because in less than a year, the first members of the huge Baby Boom generation will turn 55 years old. The travel industry should be prepared for explosive growth in the mature consumer market."

FACTS ABOUT MATURE TRAVELERS

When it comes to big ticket items, travelers most often purchase a camera and/or camera equipment (44%) in preparation for their trip. Other popular items are luggage (42%), camping equipment (26%), hunting or fishing equipment (25%) and cellular phones (19%). Ten percent of travelers made a big ticket—and just plain big—purchase of a car, boat or RV in preparation for their trip. Not wanting to miss the big game, a favorite show or just keeping the kids entertained no doubt influenced the four percent of travelers who purchase portable televisions before their trip.

Big-ticket Purchases Made in the Past Year
(Among 66.0 Million Past Year Travelers Making Purchases
to Prepare for Any Trip Taken in the Past Year)

Over half (52%) of young travelers (under age 35) have purchased a camera and/or camera equipment before taking a trip. This compares to only 40 percent of baby boomer travelers (age 35-54) and 34 percent of mature travelers (age 55+). Also, a larger share of non-married travelers, compared to those married, are more likely to have purchased this item (54% vs. 37%). Young travelers (15%) are more apt than baby boomer (7%) and mature travelers (5%) to buy a car, boat, or RV before taking a trip. Not surprisingly, young (33%) and baby boomer travelers (26%) are more driven than mature travelers (8%) to purchase camping equipment.

A variety of factors such as age, income and children influence whether a traveler makes a pre-trip purchase, what they spend and what they buy. A higher percentage of young travelers (under age 35) make pre-trip purchases (54%) compared to 31 percent of mature travelers (age 55+). And 55 percent of travelers with an annual household income of $75,000 or more make pre-trip purchases, compared to 40 percent of those with less than $30,000 in annual household income. Travelers with children are more likely than those without to make pre-trip purchases (53% vs. 38%), as are college graduates compared to those without a college degree (51% vs. 39%).

To what extent do travelers purchase small-ticket items before traveling? As shown below, among travelers purchasing small-ticket items, seven in ten (72%) say they "always" pick up snacks before a trip. A majority of travelers always buy toiletries (64%), film or videotape (60%), or clothes (54%). Four in ten buy maps (44%), shoes or boots (39%), or CDs (39%) before traveling. About a third buy books (36%), toys (35%), magazines (32%), or a journal or diary (32%). One in five travelers claim they always purchase travel guidebooks or travel magazines (22%).

Small-ticket Items "Always" Purchased For Trips
(Among Past Year Travelers Who Made a Specific Small-ticket Purchase
to Prepare for Any Trip Taken in the Past Year

In preparation for their most recent pleasure or personal trip, travelers estimate they spent an average of $192 on small-ticket items such as books, toiletries, magazines, clothes and snacks. The chart below shows that four in ten (39%) travelers report spending under $100 on such small items. Over half of travelers say the total spent is between $100 and $199 (23%) or between $200 and $499 (32%). Seven percent of travelers figure they spent $500 or more on small items before their last plea

NEW SURVEY ON TRAVEL MEDIA FINDS THAT INTERNET TRAVEL SITES ARE MOST USEFUL TO TRAVLERS
Atlantic City, NJ -- Half of all Americans say that they use the travel media - - everything from newspaper travel sections and television travel shows to online newsletters - - to plan their vacations. This accounts for 101.9 million adults. However, Internet web sites are ranked as the most useful sources for travel news, according to a new TIA Travel Poll released by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA).

The survey, which asked Americans about 14 different types of travel media, included a representative sample of more than 1,300 U.S. adults. The results were released during the Travel Media Showcase in Atlantic City. According to the survey, 28 percent of U.S. residents say they used newspaper travel sections to plan their travel in the past year. Twenty one percent used an Internet web site for their travel planning and 21 percent used television travel shows such as CNN Travel Guide.

Mediums used in the past year to plan a trip or vacation*
Newspaper travel section 28%
Internet Web site 21%
Travel show on television or cable 21%
Motor Club Magazine, such as AAA 18%
Consumer lifestyle magazines 17%
News magazines 12%
Consumer travel magazine 12%
Membership Publication 12%
Travel guidebook 11%
In-flight magazine from an airline 10%
A travel trade or business publication 10%
An electronic or e-mail newsletter 9%

*Multiple responses allowed

However, when travelers who use more than one travel medium were asked which travel medium is most useful to them, 26 percent say that they find Internet web sites most useful, followed by newspaper travel sections and television travel shows.

"The reason for the usefulness of Internet web sites is clear." said William S. Norman, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America. "Internet web sites are available 24 hours a day, and they can be accessed from both home and office. In addition, Internet sites don't have the time and space limitations of traditional media, and this allows them to have the large volumes of information often required of today's traveler. Internet sites can also be updated more quickly than other forms travel media which gives them the reputation for having the most up to date information on a destination."

Half of travel media users (50%) say they read, watch or listen to travel media at least once a month or once a week. Fifteen percent of travel media users say they use the travel media 2-3 times per week.

Travelers were also asked if they have ever decided to visit a travel destination because of information that they saw or read in the travel media. About one third (31%) said they have done so. Sixty-eight percent said no and one percent did not know. Of this group, 26 percent said they saw the destination they visited profiled on a telephone.

more on page four >>

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