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January 6, 2009updated Dec 20, 2023

Survey Reveals Travel Trends for 2009

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Minneapolis, MN –Travel Leaders (formerly Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates) unveiled the 2009 results of their authoritative annual Travel Trends Survey.  The U.S. recession is playing a significant factor in various trends, and while Travel Leaders experts have indicated a slide in comparable year-over-year bookings, over 80% are either optimistic or neutral about the year ahead.

“What we have witnessed with the U.S. economy is unlike anything we have seen in decades, and it is having a major impact on the traveling public and the travel industry,” stated Roger E. Block, CTC, president of Travel Leaders, which includes 500 locations from coast to coast.  “Despite the daily drumbeat of negative news on our economy and the general perception that everyone is staying home, it speaks volumes that when asked ‘What are the top ways leisure travelers are saving money?’ the five most frequent responses from our experts were (in order): being flexible with dates, staying at all-inclusives, using frequent flyer miles, taking a cruise, and booking only if there is a promotion or deal.”

“Our Travel Leaders experts are counseling clients on creative ways to squeeze every ounce of value out of each travel experience.  Nearly 41% of our experts indicated leisure travelers are saving money by shortening their trips, 22.1% are driving versus flying, and 21.6% are checking into different tier accommodations than before,” continued Block.

Destination Highlights:

Las Vegas maintained a slight edge over Orlando for the #1 spot domestically while the value of cruising, particularly in the Caribbean (Caribbean cruising) continues to outpace other international destinations to retain the top spot as the most popular international “destination.”

Chicago soared 10 spots from 2008’s annual survey to land at #10 in 2009.  Being the hometown of President-elect Barack Obama may have stimulated renewed interest in the Windy City.

The growing interest and prominence of China on the world’s stage, showcased by the 2008 Olympics, is evident with the continuing upward trend of both Beijing and Shanghai. Beijing gained two more spots, moving up to #16, while Shanghai jumped 11 spots to land in 19th place.

Top 10 International Destinations: 2009
1 – Caribbean Cruising                     64.1%
2 – Cancún, México                            58.1%
3 – Riviera Maya, México                  37.2%
4 – Puerto Vallarta, México              21.2%
5 – Mediterranean Cruising             20.5%
6 – Montego Bay, Jamaica                 20.1%
7 – Rome, Italy                                     19.4%
8 – Punta Cana, D. Republic             18.1%
9 – Cabo San Lucas/                           15.8%
Los Cabos, México
10 – (tie) Cruising Mexico                15.6%
10 – (tie) London, UK                          15.6%

Top 5 Cruise Destinations: 2009
1. Caribbean (Western)                     27.2%
2. Alaska                                               17.6%
3. Caribbean (Eastern)                       16.8%
4. Mexican Riviera                              7.9%
5. Caribbean (Southern)                    6.9%

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