Travel Activities and Motivations Survey

U.S. Travellers who participated in Aboriginal experiences and activities

Full report available in pdf format

January 2007


Overall, American travellers who participated in activities related to aboriginal products and services while on a trip of one or more nights are a bit older, richer and more educated than other U.S. travellers. Like other American travellers, they enjoy shopping, dining and walking around to observe architecture, but they also like history and culture much more than other American travellers do.

These travellers are easy to reach through any media but radio and TV have the highest penetration rates.

For about a third of these travellers some of their trips were motivated by the desire to experience aboriginal culture. However, the places in the U.S. where these travellers are over-represented are also the places that have, in relative terms, large proportions of American Indians or native Alaskans residing (US Census Bureau) – meaning that they did not travel very far to participate in these activities.

Market size and importance of aboriginal products for travellers

  • 14.75 million adult Americans (or 8.4%) participated in activities related to aboriginal travel products while on overnight out-of-town trips over the last 2 years.
  • About one-third of the American travellers who had participated in aboriginal activities indicated that these activities were the main reason for taking the trip.
  • The largest proportion of travellers who participated in aboriginal activities resides in California. However, it is in places such as Alaska, San Francisco, Seattle and Nevada that these travellers are over-represented (that is these locations account for a larger proportion of travellers who engage in aboriginal activities than of the U.S. population).

Other activities they participated in

  • In addition to participating in aboriginal activities these American travellers also participated in other activities. The most popular of these other activities (50% participation or more) were (in order of popularity):
  • Dining at restaurants that offer local ingredients and recipes
  • Shopping at clothing, shoe and jewellery shops
  • Strolling around the city to observe its buildings and architecture
  • Shopping at local arts and crafts shops
  • Visiting well-known historic sites and buildings
  • Visiting a national or provincial/state nature park
  • Shopping at bookstores and music stores
  • Visiting other historic sites, monuments and buildings
  • Visiting well-known natural wonders
  • Approximately half (53.1%) of the adult Americans who participated in aboriginal activities took a same-day tour while on an overnight trip in the past 2 years. The most popular types of same-day tours were to tour “Around the City” and to tour “Around the Countryside”.
  • Self-guided tours were almost of equal importance as the organized or guided tours for this group of travellers.
  • Approximately one quarter (22.3%) of adult American travellers who participated in aboriginal activities took an ocean cruise over the past 2 years. A Caribbean cruise was by far the most popular type of cruise, while the Alaskan cruises and other types of cruises were also popular.

Destinations visited

  • The United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean were the most popular destinations for this group of travellers in the last 2 years, with 14% of them having visited Ontario.


  • Although Internet websites (82.7%) were considered highly important sources of information for planning vacations, past experience (62.4%) and the advice of friends or relatives (57.2%) were also relatively important.
  • Almost two-thirds (60.5%) of this group used websites such as Expedia and Travelocity to plan their vacation and more than half (58.8%) of them used the website of a hotel or resort.
  • The majority (57%) of these American travellers used the Internet to book parts of their overnight vacation.
  • The majority of the American travellers who participate in aboriginal activities while on an overnight trip consider first the destination when planning a summer or winter overnight vacation trip.

Reasons for travelling and expectations and ratings of destinations

  • A substantial number of these travellers took vacations in order to get a break from their day-to-day environment (68.9%). A similar proportion (67.4%) travelled in order to relax and relieve stress, while travel for 64% of them creating lasting memories was a benefit sought in their pleasure travels.
  • In choosing a destination, there were three conditions that were highly important to substantial portions of this market: feeling safe at the destination (68.6%), having lots of things for adults to see and do (55.7%), and being conveniently accessible by car (47.6%).
  • About one-third (32%) of American travellers who participated in aboriginal activities rated Ontario as a very appealing travel destination, 9% as very unappealing and 18% could not rate the province at all. A majority of these Americans rated Hawaii (70%) and California (55%) as very appealing travel destinations.
Media habits and memberships

  • The weekday (64.9%) and weekend (60.5%) editions of daily newspapers and local neighbourhood or community newspapers (57.2%) were the most read by this group of American travellers.
  • Almost three quarters (71.7%) of this group enjoyed watching movies on television, while similar proportions also watched dramas (64.6%) and news and current affairs programs (64.8%).
  • Oldies radio programs were the most popular with just over half (50%) of this group, while news/information (41%) and modern/alternative rock programs (35%) were not as popular.
  • Slightly more than half (50.3%) of these American travellers are members of an automobile club such as AAA, while 41% belong to a frequent flyer program.


  • Most of these American travellers belonged to a household where they lived with their spouse/partner (70%). To a much lesser extent, some lived with their birth/step/adopted children 17 years old and younger (23%), while some lived with their birth/step/adopted children 18 years old and older (17%).
  • Compared to the general American traveller, those who participated in aboriginal activities have a higher household income (24% have an income of $100,000 or more as opposed to 20% of other American travellers).
  • Nearly one quarter (22%) of these American travellers had a bachelor's degree or attended teachers' college; 19% had earned a doctorate or master's degree as compared to 12% for the general American traveller.
  • The average age of American travellers who engaged in aboriginal activities was 47 while that of other American travellers was 45.