Tours & Activities’ Ridiculous Summer in Two Charts

Reports on the summer season coming in from across our industry range from the exceptional to the exceptionally depressing. These two charts say it all.

The reopening of tours, activities and attractions since May and June of this year has been uneven to say the least.

We have been hearing many reports that most tour operators and attractions in major cities and destinations have been largely deprived of the international travelers they have relied on for years. However, we’ve also talked to many operators of outdoor experiences that naturally lend themselves to social distancing, and they appear to have done quite well.

We took a quick look at Google Trends for the U.S. market to see if search trend data bore that out. Here’s what we found:

Classic tourism – bus tours, walking tours, food tours – have suffered tremendously. Search trend data in the U.S. for these three categories took a huge nosedive in March and have yet to recover. 

Demand for some outdoor and water-based activities is comparable to or even higher than 2019. Speaking at Arival’s August webinar on the watersports sector, Kevin ONeil, CEO at Destiny Water Adventures, and Amber Merrell, owner at Power Up Watersports, both reported significant year-over-year growth as travelers flocked to coastal destinations for private and small-group water activities. 

In fact, the second chart shows that search interest in the U.S. for boat and kayak rentals this summer have surpassed search demand from 2019. This is consistent with reports from several reservation system companies in the U.S. and Europe, which reported a significant uptick in bookings for operators of outdoor small group or private experiences and rentals. 

What a Strange Season (to Say the Least)

The pandemic’s impact on our industry has been broadly devastating for operators dependent on traditional, international tourism. But there have been pockets of resurgence. People still want to get out and travel and experience. Operators with local markets and outdoor, small-group experiences, have benefited – some greatly. 

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A note on the data

Google Trends are a general indicator of search demand are freely available here. You can use them to explore trends relevant to you, and narrow them down by geography. 

We also recommend having a look at Blend Marketing’s custom search dashboard geared towards tour and activity operators. They have several pre-set terms that make for easy browsing. 


Arival 360, October 26 – November 5, is a series of four one-day virtual events featuring exclusive insights on current trends and best practices, insights from leading operators, the new opportunities and challenges for online travel agencies, the role of technology providers and destinations across the globe on the challenges we all face – and the decisions we must take – to navigate the many paths to revival.

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