Fewer Americans want to spend summer in the city—New York City, that is—according to a recent survey by the American Society of Travel Agents.
Although you probably won't be surprised by the rest of the survey—Orlando and Las Vegas remain the top domestic destinations for the sixth year running—New York dropped to number seven on the list after five years at number three. Travel agents report that New York trips make up just 2.1 percent of bookings for 2008 travel to U.S. cities as compared to 11.8 percent in 2007.
Why the sudden change?
The high costs of staying in New York City may be deterring some people, said Harvey Chipkin, a writer for the industry publication Travel Weekly. "I can’t think of any negatives except maybe some message got out that New York is expensive, especially the hotels," Chipkin says.
Similarly, travel agent Amy Glass, of New York City-based Protravel International, was surprised by New York's drop in popularity. But she said the trend may not be New York City's fault. "We're seeing a lot of slowdown in vacation travel everywhere," says Glass. "People have just been asking for some place they can drive to."
While NYC & Company, New York City's official marketing and tourism organization, does not have definite predictions for summer 2008, they note the city had a record-breaking year for tourism in 2007 and they anticipate further growth this year.
"NYC is experiencing some of the best records it has ever had," says Christopher Heywood, Director of Tourism Media Relations. Last year saw an increase in the number of international visitors due to a weak dollar, but there was also a rise in the number of U.S. visitors. "I think it’s fair to say the momentum is going to continue," says Heywood.
The folks who commissioned the survey are also optimistic in the long run. Says Melissa Teates, Director of Research for ASTA, "Other than Orlando and Vegas, other cities come in and out of the top 10 in cycles. Looking at the past it seems like a city like New York might drop but they’ll come back again."
Who's right? Has New York become too expensive for American travelers? How are the weak dollar and high gas prices affecting your summer travel plans?