by Lisa Grimaldi | March 01, 2008

The number of U.S. incentive travel programs is expected to increase over the next two years, according to a new study of 94 U.S. incentive planners conducted in October by the Incentive Research Foundation in New York City.

While respondents projected increases to both domestic and international destinations, more groups will be staying closer to home. Twenty percent of those polled said the number of domestic incentive trips will increase moderately, while 34 percent said such travel will increase slightly.

For programs outside the United States, 14 percent predicted a moderate increase, and 26 percent projected a slight boost over the next two years. Twenty-seven percent said the number of domestic programs will remain the same, and 22 percent anticipated no change in the number of overseas programs.

When asked to what extent world affairs concerned them in relation to incentive travel, 64 percent of respondents said they are significantly concerned about travel to international destinations, while only 28 percent are significantly anxious about travel within the 50 states.

Respondents said their constituencies (higher-ups, clients) also are concerned (46 percent significantly, 40 percent moderately so) about travel abroad, while they said 27 percent are significantly worried about domestic trips. Among their concerns:

* Security/safety, cited by 50 percent;

* Exchange rate/weakness of U.S. dollar (38 percent);

* Fear of terrorist attack/terrorism (11 percent);

* Deteriorating U.S. reputation abroad (11 percent);

* Lack of trust in airline security (9 percent).