U.S. attractions’ remarkable rebound of 2021 will continue to play out in force in 2022. As the U.S. attractions industry has been shaped by the third year of the COVID pandemic, one thing is abundantly clear, the attraction industry is amazingly resilient. The results of PGAV Destination’s seventh-annual Voice of the Visitor: Outlook on the Attractions Industry, which tracks Americans’ travel behavior and forecasts future plans, highlights it’s not “if,” but “when” recovery is going to happen.
“By nearly all of our key metrics, 2021 performance for the overall attractions industry exceeded our Voice of the Visitor 2021 projections,” said Mike Konzen, CEO, PGAV. “In fact, we heard from so many of our clients that 2021 represented their best year ever on a financial basis.”
Following the 2020 COVID-19 sharp decrease in travel, overall attraction attendance bounced back to 73% of 2019, slightly outperforming consumers’ own forecast last year. PGAV’s Voice of the Visitor 2022 (VOV 2022) reveals that 2022 performance is expected to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. Pent up demand, combined with a continuation of strong personal savings, will continue to drive attraction visitation throughout 2022.
VOV 2022 shows that outdoor attractions still top the charts as most visited attraction type. Visitors are getting more comfortable visiting certain types of attractions. Historic Landmarks, National/State Parks, and Zoos/Animal Attractions once again topped the list of attractions visited. Compared to 2020, the average visitor age for adults increased slightly, returning to historical average, signaling that older adults are becoming more comfortable with travel.
Increased per capita spending — one of the surprises of 2021 — will likely continue through 2022 as almost two-thirds of survey respondents indicated they will continue to “splurge.” Visitors are expected to visit an average of four attractions in 2022.
VOV 2022 expanded to focus on visitors’ perceptions and experiences with diversity while traveling. Of our respondents, those identifying as people of color made up 33% of attraction visitors in 2021 — a new VOV record. And these respondents showed a strong enthusiasm to visit attractions they have never visited before; when compared with those identifying as non-Hispanic white, people of color visited 6% more attractions in 2021 and were 16% more likely to be first-time visitors. As a whole, 72% said they planned to visit even more attractions in 2022.
All of these results bode well for the industry and reinforces the relevance of attractions.
Conducted by H2R Market Research, PGAV’s Voice of the Visitor interviewed 1,500 American respondents who either visited an attraction in 2021 or plan to do so in 2022, providing a margin of error of +/-2.5% at a 95% confidence interval. In addition to the general population sample, an oversample of 400 People of Color (self-identifying as any race other than non-Hispanic white) as collected to provide further insights into this community. These results are reported separately where applicable.