CWT survey: Vegas, Carib cruising dominates

Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates unveiled the 2007 results of their authoritative annual Travel Trends Survey in which Las Vegas and Caribbean cruising continue to dominate the top spots for domestic and international travel, respectively. But Florida boasts having five cities listed among the top 15 domestic destinations and Rome makes history again—this time landing in the top five international destinations for the first time in this survey.

Conducted November 28-December 15, 2006, the 2007 Travel Trends Survey includes responses from a record 507 Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate owners, managers and frontline agents throughout the United States—roughly equivalent to 83% of all Carlson Wagonlit Travel locations.

“With the incredible response we received from our Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates this year, we are able to paint the best picture yet of what the traveling public is booking for this upcoming year,” stated Roger E. Block, CTC, executive vice president of the Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate Division. “Domestically, Florida has bounced back quite well after a quiet season weather-wise. Internationally, the big story is Italy, which apparently has yet to reach its peak in popularity.”

“In fact, Rome’s fourth place finish and Italy’s overall increased strength dovetails nicely with last year’s Carlson Wagonlit Travel International Summit in Rome where our largest group of Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates ever participated in the confab,” Block noted. “The greater awareness our agents gain from such an exclusive, educational event is immeasurable to their customers and their business. In 2007 our International Summit will convene in the burgeoning, captivating destination of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.”

Block continued, “It is important to note that our top two trends are ‘clients are feeling more confident about traveling farther from home’ and ‘clients are spending more per vacation’ which means our job as travel experts becomes even more important,” added Block. “With nearly 82% of our travel agents saying their bookings are equal to or above the same time period last year means consumers are looking to us for our expertise so that they get the vacation experience and value they’ve been saving for.”


Top Vacation Destinations: U.S. and International

When asked to forecast the most popular U.S. destinations for 2007 based on their actual bookings to date, nearly 78% of the respondents named Las Vegas, securing the city’s number-one ranking in the survey and edging out Orlando for the fifth year in a row. The sun, sand and convenience of seeing multiple islands and beaches via cruise ships has kept Caribbean cruising atop the list of most popular international “destinations” beating out second place Cancun, Mexico once again, according to the 507 Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate experts who completed this year’s survey.

  Also noteworthy:

  —Roman Renaissance: Rome has steadily climbed up the international list
    over the last four years, finally earning a place in the top five.  The
    progression can be traced from 11th in 2004 to 9th in 2005 to 6th last
    year and now placing 4th in 2007.  Also riding on that wave is
    Mediterranean cruising, which just cracked the top 10 international
    “destinations.”  In the past four years it has climbed from 15th in
    2004 to 10th place in 2007. Also, Florence/Tuscany moved up one spot to
    15 and Venice jumped three spots to 23.
  —The Ups and Downs: Miami/Miami Beach has jumped six spots from 13 to 7.
    Also on the rise, Los Angeles is up four positions to number 16 and
    Ft. Lauderdale is up three spots to number 11.  Because of the
    relatively quiet 2006 hurricane season, Florida is rebounding nicely
    translating into five Florida cities in the top 15.  Headed in the
    opposite direction are Kauai, which dropped out of the top 10 to number
    14, and Anaheim/Orange County which slipped six spots to number 18.
  —Trend to watch: China, and in a larger sense Asia, is quietly gaining
    in popularity.  Beijing moved up to 23rd—tied with Venice—via a
    jump of six spots on the international list; Hong Kong rose from 36th
    to 27th between 2006 and 2007; and Shanghai saw a modest bump from 36th
    to 34th.  As far as “emerging” leisure destinations, Carlson Wagonlit
    Travel experts aggregated points within Asia for a cumulative ranking
    as third overall.