|Maui sunset // Photo by Freeimages.com/Steven Kapinos|
Maui and Honolulu each earned a spot in the top five domestic destinations clients are looking to visit in 2016, according to a recently released study by Vacation.com President John Lovell. Rounding out the top five are Alaska (specifically cruises), Orlando and Las Vegas.
It's no surprise that Maui and Honolulu are poised for strong years as both had very impressive years in 2015. In fact, Elizabeth E. Moriarty, vice president of product development for MLT Vacations, recently told us that Delta Air Lines added major capacity to Hawaii in 2015 and noted that capacity was up in both Honolulu, which saw a 12 percent increase in capacity year–over-year, and Maui, which saw a whopping 47 percent increase.
And agents can expect much of the same as Oahu's first ever Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts property is expected to attract an influx of luxury clients to Honolulu, while Maui is still expecting its Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort and Montage Kapalua Bay properties to keep the destination hot for 2016. Both properties will continue to draw affluent Millennials.
Following a $15 million renovation of the former Residences at Kapalua Bay, the new all-suite Montage Kapalua Bay resort, which opened in 2014, is a private oceanfront escape with an emphasis on luxury in a Hawaiian setting that we still expect to garner heavy buzz in 2016. It is located on the northwest coast of Maui.
Both destinations will also get a major boost from Virgin America's debut in the Aloha State. The carrier announced in April that it will fly to both Honolulu and Maui, serving both destinations with one daily round-trip flight from its main hub in San Francisco. Hawaii officials have said that the new flights are expected to increase access to the Hawaiian Islands from both its core U.S. West and U.S. East markets through Virgin America's extensive nationwide flight network. The Hawaii Tourism Authority, in fact, estimates that flights will generate $138.6 million in visitor spending and $14.8 million in tax revenue for the state on an annual basis.
In a recent survey conducted across a large cross-section of Vacation.com’s membership, 84.7 percent said their 2016 bookings are on par or greater than the same time last year (up from 82 percent of members last year saying their 2015 bookings are on par or greater). Additionally, optimism is slightly improved year over year with 84.3 percent expressing an optimistic personal business outlook compared to 84 percent a year ago.
“As the U.S. dollar remains very strong against most major currencies and the price of fuel has dropped dramatically, American travelers are getting so much more value for their vacation experience,” said Lovell in a written release. “This has contributed to Vacation.com seeing a strong turn in our annual performance to date, in which 2016 bookings are outpacing where we were at this time a year ago for 2015. All travel segments are experiencing year over year growth.”