Foreign visitors favor isles


POSTED: Thursday, September 17, 2009

Honolulu failed to crack the top 20 U.S. destinations for American travelers in the most recent survey by global lodging provider Hotels.com.

However, Honolulu did move up in the rankings of top U.S. destinations for international travelers from the last half of 2008 to the first half of 2009.

Honolulu's No. 13 ranking among international travelers represented a three-notch improvement from the previous Hotels.com survey. Only Anaheim, Calif., which moved up five spaces, posted a greater gain.

A favorable exchange rate has helped bolster interest from Asian travelers to Hawaii, said Steve Dumaine, senior director of merchandising for Hotels.com in North America.

“;If you take out the time and distance element, Hawaii fares very well,”; Dumaine said.

“;It will always be a very aspirational destination both for U.S. and international travelers.”;





        Top U.S. destinations for international and domestic travelers for the first half of 2009:



International Travelers

        1. New York

        2. Las Vegas

        3. San Francisco

        4. Miami

        5. Los Angeles

        6. Orlando, Fla.

        7. Chicago

        8. Boston

        9. San Diego

        10. Seattle

        11. Washington, D.C.

        12. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

        13. Honolulu

        14. Newark, N.J.

        15. Anaheim, Calif.

        16. New Orleans

        17. Atlanta, Calif.

        18. San Antonio

        19. Houston

        20. Key West, Fla.

Domestic Travelers
        1. Las Vegas
        2. New York
        3. Orlando, Fla.
        4. Chicago
        5. San Francisco
        6. Los Angeles
        7. San Diego
        8. Miami
        9. Boston
        10. San Antonio
        11. Atlanta
        12. Seattle
        13. Houston
        14. New Orleans
        15. Washington, D.C.
        16. Dallas
        17. Denver
        18. Anaheim, Calif.
        19. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
        20. Philadelphia





Major East and West Coast destinations in the United States were among the most preferred by international visitors, with New York topping the list of most-visited cities. Las Vegas, which has slashed its room rates to bare minimums, was the second most preferred destination with San Francisco and Los Angeles pulling up the ranks as the third and fifth most popular choices. Miami took fourth place and Orlando, Fla., came in sixth. Philadelphia was bumped off the top 20 list during the first half of this year and replaced by Key West, Fla., while Newark, N.J., Miami, Washington, D.C., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Atlanta, Calif., and San Antonio dropped in the rankings.

Similarly, Las Vegas, New York City and Orlando were the top three most preferred choices among American travelers during the first half of the year compared with the second half of 2008. Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, Boston and San Antonio rounded out the top 10. Destinations offering historically low hotel rates and widespread entertainment options for the whole family fared the best in this poll.

As the economy has slumped, more U.S. travelers are choosing to take shorter trips to drive-to destinations, Dumaine said. It's also becoming more common for visitors to limit their time so they can stay in nicer properties, he said.

“;A Hawaii trip tends to be on the bigger end of the scale, so there may be some shifting toward that closer-to-home trip,”; Dumaine said.

Despite an 18 percent price drop in average daily room rates during the first half of the year, Honolulu was noticeably absent from the ranking. During the first six months of 2009, Honolulu's daily hotel room rate averaged $157, which next to New York was the second highest U.S. hotel rate. While New York hotel rooms averaged $196 per night, they were down 30 percent from the prior year. New York visitors paid an average of $85 less for their hotel rooms in the first half of 2009 than they did at the same time last year.

Honolulu's hotel room price drop was in keeping with the U.S. average, which Hotels.com reported dropped 17 percent in the first six months of this year as compared to last. Room rates in the U.S. cost an average of $115 a night during the first half of 2009, down from $139 during the same period a year ago.

“;This is by far the most significant change in prices that we've seen since we created the Hotel Price Index,”; said David Roche, president of Hotels.com. “;Americans' travel dollars have never gone further than in 2009.”;

The Hotels.com survey examined hotel preferences and prices at 78,000 hotels across 13,000 destinations.