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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jan. 28, 201012:00 PM EST

Orlando dethrones Vegas as top domestic destination

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from staff 

Travel Leaders recently unveiled the 2010 results of their annual Travel Trends Survey. After years of finishing second in this nationwide survey of travel experts, Orlando topped Las Vegas as the top domestic destination being booked, while Caribbean cruising remained atop Travel Leaders’ international destinations list.

Conducted Nov. 30-Dec. 18, the 2010 Travel Trends Survey includes responses from 521 travel leaders owners, managers and front-line travel experts throughout the United States.

“Orlando landing at number one shows the remarkable resiliency strength in family-oriented destinations, while Las Vegas appears to still be suffering unfairly from the intense scrutiny associated with last year’s spate of canceled conventions,” said Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, which includes locations from coast to coast. “Overall bookings are starting to trend higher, optimism is definitely on the rise, and a significant number of leisure travelers are taking advantage of current hotel prices and ‘trading up’ to more luxurious accommodations — which are all good signs as we head into 2010.

“While there may still be short periods of choppy waters ahead for the travel industry, we are well-positioned to help all travelers, whether they are leisure or business travelers.”

Locally, the results of the poll may have some affect. Lyndsay Rossman, director of corporate communications for Visit Jacksonville, said Orlando is Jacksonville’s top competitor for business and meeting travelers. However, the more people that come to Florida for any reason may mean more tourism for Jacksonville.

“What they have going for them is the theme parks, which we don’t have. But, we have things like beaches,” she said. “It’s nice because Orlando is close and there’s an opportunity for people heading south on (Interstate) 95 to stop and stay in Jacksonville for a couple of days. We do advertise in Orlando for the locals to come to Jacksonville.”

The following is a few notes about the survey based on 2010 bookings:

• In its initial entry onto the survey, “Alaska Cruises” jumped to the No. 3 spot. Another first-time entry, the U.S. Virgin Islands (remember there is no need for a passport to these Caribbean destinations), landed at No. 19 — just one spot back of Anaheim/Orange County, Calif.

• Caribbean Cruising remains the top international destination with significant value being offered in virtually every region. In all, four cruise itineraries were included among the Top 20 international destinations: Caribbean (No. 1), Europe-Mediterranean (4), Mexico (11) and the Panama Canal (19).

• Perhaps as an indicator of an improving economy, Rome, London and Paris all moved up with the latter two rebounding particularly well. Rome is up two spots to No. 5; London up four spots to No. 6 and Paris up five spots to No. 8.

Additional notes:

• Over 67 percent of Travel Leaders experts who book leisure travel indicated that the average length of the leisure trips they’re booking is 6-7 days. Those who book business travel indicated that three-day business trips are most common (40.2 percent) followed by two-day trips (33.6 percent) 

• A full 80 percent responded “no” when asked if their clients were expressing concerns about the H1N1 virus and it impacting client travel.

• With regards to leisure travel hotel bookings, 41.6 percent indicated that their clients are “trading up” because of the increased value/lower prices while another 47.9 percent indicated their clients are booking the same category of hotel accommodations.

• As for luxury travelers — those spending $15,000 or more per booking — the following insights were revealed:

— Travel Leaders “typical” luxury client takes two trips a year according to 51.4 percent

— Luxury travelers whose trips average 14 or more days account for 42.2 percent while 41.1 percent take trips averaging 10-12 days

— A majority of luxury travelers add both extra travel days and amenities to their vacations (65.1 percent)

— There is a rather even split between luxury travelers preferring popular destinations (53.8 percent) and those seeking “out of the ordinary” destinations (46.2 percent)

Destinations

The following are the top 10 domestic and international destinations for 2010 along with ranking from 2009 based on a survey of travel agents.

Rank Domestic 2009 ranking
  1 Orlando     2
  2 Las Vegas     1
  3 Alaska cruise not ranked
  4 New York City     5
  5 Kahului (Maui)     3
  6 Honolulu     4
  7 Chicago    10
  8 Phoenix/Scotsdale     6
  9 Washington, D.C.     8
 10 Los Angeles    17

Rank International 2009 ranking
  1 Caribbean cruise     1
  2 Cancun, Mexico     2
  3 Riviera Maya, Mexico     3
  4 Mediterranean cruise     5
  5 Rome     7
  6 London    10
  7 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic   8
  8 Paris    13
  9 Montego Bay, Jamaica     6
  10 Playa del Carmen, Mexico    12 

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