The Latin American Travel Association (LATA) has revealed the results of its 2017 Travel Trends Report.

Surveying 3,641 consumers about their travel habits, it found that 19% had travelled to Latin America in the last two years with the largest share (25%) falling into the 65+ age category followed by the 25-34 age category, representing 21% and the 55-64 age category representing 18%.

More than 40 UK tour operators were also surveyed, of which 59% were Latin American specialists. In terms of types of holidays sold, the three most popular categories included ‘wildlife and nature’ at 86%, ‘culture, history and heritage’ at 81% and ‘luxury’ at 78%.

Looking specifically at the Latin American region, more than 62% of operators reported a growth in bookings in 2016 versus 2015. For the first quarter of 2017, 81% of operators reported to have seen a growth in bookings to the region compared with the same period last year, with the most popular types of booking being multi-destination trips, tailor-made holidays and highlights tours.

Destinations seeing the largest amount of growth over the last two years include Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Colombia.

However, in terms of barriers to booking, 47% of operators claim that the main barrier is cost; 18% claim it is due to distance and 15% cite concerns around the zika virus. It was also noted that 76% of bookings are made directly with the tour operator rather than via a travel agent.

Delving a bit deeper, LATA also surveyed 254 travel agents – and when asked how confident they felt when selling trips to key destinations, Latin America came at the bottom of the list behind Europe, North America, Asia, the Caribbean, Australasia and Africa. The same applied when asked to rank destinations in terms of ease of earning commission.

When asked what one factor would help sell more holidays to Latin America, 52% cited a better knowledge of the destination, with the sae percentage stating that more training would help.

Despite more than half of the travel agent respondents citing a lack of knowledge as a major deterrent when trying to sell holidays to Latin America, the results show that there is a demonstrable desire amongst the trade to learn more about the destination. LATA has highlighted that this is a valuable opportunity for tourist boards and operators to deliver meaningful training sessions to help agents and drive sales and visitation.

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