From the USA Today:
Wallet-watching travelers will be taking fewer trips, waiting longer to book them in hopes of a deal and downscaling vacations. Las Vegas will remain a big draw, and Mexico will be hotter than a chili pepper.
That’s the outlook for 2009, according to travel analysts and providers and a survey of 547 agents, managers and agency owners with Travel Leaders (formerly Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates), out today.
Internationally, Caribbean cruises rule yet again, but dollar-stretching Mexico has five destinations in the top 10: Cancun, No. 2; Riviera Maya, No. 3; Puerto Vallarta, No. 4; Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos, No. 9; and Mexican cruises (tied for No. 10). Additionally, some Caribbean cruises call at Mexican ports.“You’ve got so many” new resorts in Mexico, and there are some exceptional values, Loucks says. He also cites increased interest in China, Mediterranean cruising and European river cruises.
At Apple Vacations, famed for value getaways in the Caribbean and elsewhere, Mexico remains popular. Huatulco on the Pacific Coast is an up-and-coming destination, with lots of new hotel rooms, says Apple marketing vice president Sandy Babin.
Meanwhile, well-heeled travelers are “taking a step back” and downgrading, says Roland Largay, chairman of Southbury, Conn.-based Largay Travel, who recently was named agent of the year by Travel Agent magazine.
Other findings in the Travel Leaders 2009 trends survey:
•90.5% say customers are cutting back on travel compared with the same period last year.
•57.4% say clients are cutting back on the length of their trips.
•81.6% say clients are trading down when it comes to hotels.
•84.3% recommend Mexico as the best value outside the USA, followed by cruises (61.1%) and the Caribbean (43.9%). Agents were asked to pick up to three places.
•Despite the rise of the dollar against the euro and pound, 77% say bookings to Europe are even or down for 2009.
•71% say travelers are saving money by staying at all-inclusive resorts; 75.7% say vacationers are being more flexible with travel dates to get better prices.
2009 “is going to be a travelers’ market,” he predicts.