Airfares seem to be on the rise. Are there any popular destinations where good fares can still be found?
It's important for travelers to remember that while airfare for spring is higher than is was at this time last year, it's still a relative bargain when compared to the average ticket price in spring 2008.
Looking at Travelocity's Spring Data Report, there are several popular spring break destinations where both airfare and hotel rates are down. Maui, Kona, the Dominican Republic, New York City, and Reno-Tahoe are all examples. But far and away the best-value destination this spring is Mexico.
How does Mexico's value now as a destination compare with other destinations?
The top-booked Mexico destinations are all showing deep price declines, particularly on hotel rates. Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo are showing hotel rate declines of 14, 13, and 22 percent, respectively. So, compare that to the overall international hotel price decline of three percent for spring break and it's clear Mexico is a huge bargain. Factor in a favorable exchange rate and you're getting even more for your money. Mexico's value is particularly apparent when you look at average round-trip airfare from the U.S. to Mexico compared to spots in say, Western Europe. Now, these are totally different experiences but if you're just looking to get away, airfare to Mexico is roughly $500 cheaper than to London, Paris, or Rome.
Last year was a tough one for Mexico because of swine flu and border violence. Are Americans realizing that the popular tourist spots in Mexico are now safe?
It certainly seems that way. Mexico has jumped up the list of spring break destinations to take the top three international spots and has surpassed even its 2008 popularity levels. Cancun, Cabo, and Puerto Vallarta are the top three international destinations for Travelocity customers this spring break. Travelers with plans to visit Mexico this spring will likely be pleasantly surprised by the high level of service they receive—with all the hardships Mexico endured in 2009, the tourism industry is rolling out the red carpet for visitors.
Will this weeks's renewed travel alert put a damper on Mexico's big comeback this spring? Or will the traveling public differentiate between the border cities where the violence is concentrated and the resort cities where there is virtually no violence?
Well, it is a little early to tell. Certainly, the renewed travel alert won't be beneficial to Mexico's tourism industry, but I'm hopeful that the media reporting on the alert will do so responsibly and the traveling public will educate themselves on the distance between the border cities and the resort cities—often hundreds and hundreds of miles. My advice to travelers is to read the alert carefully and then make an informed and educated decision about your trip.
What about hotels?
Overall, domestic and international hotel rates are lower than last year. That's where travelers will find value this spring and beyond—not just from lower rates, but value-add promotions like free nights, free room upgrades, and resort credits. And most importantly, don't forget about packaging. Just booking your flight and hotel together saves hundreds of dollars with one click of the mouse.
Is there anything relatively new in online travel booking that may make the process easier and less stressful?
The great thing about online travel is that it's always innovating, but one challenge is that the choices can be a little overwhelming—especially when there's so many amazing deals to be had right now! A new tool Travelocity recently launched that helps address that issue is the is the Deals Toolkit (travelocity.com/travel-deals). It lets users view and compare travel deals and customer reviews side-by-side to make the most informed decision.