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Where Are Americans Headed for Summer Vacation?

April 24, 2009 By: George Dooley


For the seventh year in a row, Orlando and Las Vegas remain the most popular summer destinations booked by ASTA travel agents, according to ASTA's 2009 Hot Spots for Summer survey. Orlando came out on top with a 17.2 percent share of responses and Las Vegas maintained the second spot with 16 percent of the votes. Overseas, the top four international destination cities remained the same for the seventh year in a row with top-ranked London receiving a 9.9 percent share of the vote followed by Rome (9 percent), Paris (7.5 percent) and Cancun (6.7 percent).

"The fact that the cities in the top 10 have remained the same for several years is a testimony to their enduring popularity among U.S. travelers," said Chris Russo, ASTA president and chair. "As travel agents, we know the ins and outs of both emerging destinations as well as those that are tried and true and can help our clients discover something new and exciting no matter where they choose to travel."

After Orlando and Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Honolulu, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York City round out the top 10 domestic cities. While they remained relatively the same since 2006, their rankings have not. New York City, for example, fell this year from seventh place in 2008 to 10th place after five years in the number three spot from 2003 to 2007. San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami maintained their spots at numbers three, four and five respectively. Honolulu moved up from number eight to number six.

When looking at which states have the most summer travelers as booked by travel agents, not surprisingly, Florida again came out on top in 2009, accounting for 20.3 percent of all responses with cities such as Orlando, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa. Nevada drew the second largest number of responses—a 16.1 percent share—with almost all the travel for Las Vegas. In 2008, Florida topped the top state destinations, accounting for 23.6 percent of all responses; Nevada drew the second largest number of responses a 15.7 percent share. This year, California, New York and Hawaii took third, fourth and fifth places respectively.

For Americans traveling abroad, Western European destinations are the most popular summer spots in 2009 with seven cities coming in the top 10. Mexican destinations such as Cancun (fourth place with 6.8 percent) and Puerto Vallarta (sixth place with 1.5 percent) are the other major destinations in the international top 10 list. Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic (2.2 percent) came in at number five this year. Rounding out the top 10 international destinations were Barcelona (1.1 percent) in seventh place which tied with Venice. Florence and Amsterdam came in at numbers nine and 10, respectively.

Italy remained the top international country/region booked by U.S. travel agents with an 18.1 percent share. Mexico came in second with 17.1 percent, and the UK received a 12.3 percent share of the votes. The UK was second in previous years and both Italy and the UK had larger percentage shares in 2008 (UK had 12.5 percent and Italy had 18.7 percent) and in 2007 (UK had 15.2 percent and Italy had 20.5 percent), suggesting the weak dollar is shifting some travel away from Europe with Mexico and other locations not in the top five benefiting.

Survey data was collected through the 2009 ASTA Research Family, a representative sample of ASTA member travel agency owners and managers. The Research Family reflects ASTA members in key agency demographics including sales volume, leisure/business mix, number of part-time and full-time employees and geographic location. This survey has a 95-percent confidence with an error rate +/- 3.8 percent.

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