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December 14, 2009 Industry News
Grand Canyon Rounds Out Top 10 Most-Searched Vacation Destinations
This year's most-searched vacation destination on AOL was not Sao Paulo, Bali or some other faraway place. Travelers were most interested in finding out about Disney World and Disneyland. Rounding out the top 10 were Las Vegas; Florida; Hawaii; Mexico; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Costa Rica; Italy; Colorado; and the Grand Canyon. Desperation and budgets were the driving forces. Beth Caulfield, editor in chief of AOL Travel, attributed Disney's popularity to its aggressive promotion of affordable family packages. Las Vegas earned the No. 2 spot because it's clamoring for visitors in the wake of the economic collapse. (Page F2, Washington Post, Sun.; Travel Advance, Dec. 7)
The three largest U.S. airlines say they are seeing an uptick in demand for business and premium tickets, which could signal the beginning of a recovery in all-important corporate travel. At Delta Air Lines, chief financial officer Hank Halter said yesterday that the company sold more corporate tickets in November than it did in the same month last year-the first such increase all year. But Delta, the world's largest airline, had to cut prices to get those sales. At American Airlines, officials said both leisure and premium travel were beginning to pick up, especially on international routes. The CFO of United Airlines also said corporate travel was continuing to improve. (AP; wwwBoston.com; www.ChicagoTribune.com/Business; Travel Advance, Dec. 10)
...But SWA Says Biz Travel Demand Still Lags
Not everyone in the airline industry sees the glass half-full. "Business travel still lags," said Gary Kelly, chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines, which carries more U.S. passengers than anyone. "I'm not expecting strong economic growth in 2010, and likewise I'm not expecting a rebound in business travel in 2010. Kelly and other airline executives made their comments at a Next Generation Equity Research conference in New York. (www.Star-Telegram.com/Business; Travel Advance, Dec. 10)
An informal member survey by the U.S. Tour Operators Association, which is holding its annual conference and marketplace in Banff, Canada, this week, found that more than 75 percent of respondents anticipate sales to rise by an average 18 percent in international packaged travel next year. A little more than 56 percent said they foresee average growth of 10 percent in domestic packaged travel. This year's survey results were in sharp contrast to responses from USTOA tour operators at this time last year, when more than 70 percent said they expected sales to either plateau or decline in 2009. (www.TravelPulse.com; Travel Advance, Dec. 11)
The Commerce Department says that 4.1 million international visitors traveled to the U.S. in September, a decrease of 1 percent compared to September 2008. Total visitation for the first nine months of 2009 was down 8 percent compared to the same period in 2008. International visitors spent $10.3 billion during the month, 14 percent less than visitors spent in September 2008. September marked the 11th straight month of decreases in international visitor spending. In the first nine months of 2009, visitors spent $90.6 billion, down 16 percent from the same period in 2008. In September, Canadian visitation increased 3 percent compared to September 2008. Visitation from Mexico by those traveling to interior destinations totaled 440,000, down 1 percent in September 2009. Overseas visitation decreased 4 percent in September and dropped 9 percent year-to-date. (Special to TA; Travel Advance, Dec. 11)