US Vacationers Dream of Italy

August 3, 2011

harris-top-vacation-destinations-aug11.gifWhen American adults were asked where they would choose, if they could spend a vacation in any country in the world outside of the US and not have to worry about cost, the country named most often for the second year in a row was Italy, according to a July 2011 Harris Poll. Italy has been a top pick for American vacationers for some time; it has ranked as either the first or second choice for the past eight years.

This year Great Britain comes in at the number two spot, followed by Australia in third. This is the lowest ranking Australia has seen since this question was first asked in 1997; last year and in 2008 Australia was second on the list and every other year until now it has been 1 st. Rounding out this year’s top five are Ireland and France.

Spain Gains, Germany and Japan Drop

Greece holds steady at its ranking of six from last year, while it seems Spain has become slightly more popular, moving up from ninth last year, and 10th before that, to seventh this year. Germany has dropped from a tie for sixth last year to eighth this year, and Japan dropped one spot to number nine.

America’s neighbor to the north, Canada, comes in at number 10 this year, followed by the much farther away New Zealand at number 11. Rounding out the top 15 vacation destinations are Switzerland (12), Israel (13), and returning to the list after an absence last year is Brazil at 14 and China at 15. China was last in the top 15, also at number 15, four years ago.

Mexico and the Netherlands dropped off of the top 15 list this year, they were listed at 13 and 14, respectively, last year.

Europe Clear Favorite Vacation Region

Looking at the chosen countries for vacation, more than half of Americans would choose somewhere in Europe (53%), two in five would choose to go to a country in Asia or the Pacific region (19%) while 10% prefer a country in the Americas or Caribbean.

Much smaller numbers say they would choose to vacation in a Middle Eastern country (2%) or Africa (2%) while 3% say they would not leave the US and 6% are not sure where they would choose to go.

Older Travelers Prefer Merry Olde England

harris-countries-age-gender-aug-2011.JPGNot surprisingly, different groups of people have different vacation priorities. There seems to be an age divide in vacation preferences, as younger Americans including Echo Boomers, aged 18-34, and Gen X, aged 34-46, both say Italy is their top pick, while for older Americans, Baby Boomers, aged 47-65, and Matures, aged 66 and older, the top pick is Great Britain.

While the top vacation destination for both men and women is Italy, the rest of their top five falls out somewhat differently. For men the second top pick is Australia, followed by Great Britain (three) and then France & Spain (which are tied for fourth). The female top 5 list includes Great Britain (two), Ireland (three), Australia (four) and France (five).

Gallup: 6 in 10 Say Vacation Important

More than six in 10 (61%) Americans say taking a vacation away from where they live this year is important, according to results of an April-May 2011 USA Today/Gallup poll. This includes 36% who say a vacation is very important and 25% who say it is somewhat important.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between July 11 to 18, 2011 among 2,183 adults (aged 18 and older). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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