losing favor as
The state remains the thirdBy Pete Pichaske
pick among Americans but is
tabbed by only half as many
as five years ago
Phillips News Service
WASHINGTON -- Hawaii continues to lose popularity as a favored summer getaway for Americans, according to a survey released here today.
The annual survey by the Travel Industry Association and American Automobile Association found that Hawaii, as it has been for the past decade, remains the third-favorite summer U.S. destination, behind Florida and California.
But the isles have dropped from a vacation spot favored by 24 percent of Americans surveyed in 1995 to one favored by only 12 percent this year, barely ahead of Colorado's 11 percent. Last year, Hawaii was a top choice for 16 percent of those surveyed.
Travel experts here were at a loss to explain the continuing drop, although they offered theories that included the long flight to Hawaii from the mainland; an increasing reliance on car travel; and the rise in adventure travel.
"People have been to Hawaii and they're looking for other places to go when they fly," said Jerry Cheske of AAA. "And there are other attractive options for people going further out -- Australia, other Pacific islands, Africa."
Michael Pina of the Travel Industry Association suggested that Hawaii could benefit from an expected drop-off in European vacations if the fighting in Yugoslavia continues.
The AAA and TIA said its April telephone survey included 1,500 U.S. adults who planned to travel this summer.
Nationally, the survey suggested a banner year for summer travel, with more Americans planning a vacation (33.3 million, up 4 percent from last year) and vacations expected to be longer.
"Right now we have the perfect recipe for a healthy summer travel season-- low inflation, rock-bottom unemployment and high consumer confidence," said Suzanne Cook, head of research for the TIA. "Throw in a surging stock market and you have the makings of a robust summer travel season."
In a separate report released today, AAA said Hawaii was the most expensive U.S. travel destination, with lodging and meals for a family of four costing $419 a day.
Still, Cheske said that "outside of cruising, Hawaii might be one of the best bargains out there."
After Hawaii, the next most expensive destinations were New York at $278 a day and New Jersey at $263. North Dakota was the least expensive state to visit, with lodging and meals costing a family of four $158 a day. The national average is $213 a day, up more than 1 percent from a year earlier, AAA said