Tourism Up, But Many Traveling Close to Home

Tourism Up, But Many Traveling Close to Home

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Travel and tourism in the U.S. increased by 2.6% in the second quarter, according to data released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday, but experts say those in the industry shouldn’t get too excited. If consumers continue to travel, they’re not likely to go very far.

“We’re finding there is less interest in low airfare,” says George Hobica, president of Airfarewatchdog.com, an airfare alert site that covers all carriers. He explains that cruise deals also aren’t seeing a lot of traction as current economic conditions in the U.S. and overseas continue to dissuade consumers from taking large-scale vacations.

“People are going by road,” he says, adding that he expects this trend to continue through the holiday travel season.

“Overall, I think it’s looking pretty bleak,” Hobica says. “Airfare will continue to remain high as airlines count down on capacity.”

Hobica’s sentiments are supported by a recent survey from HomeAway, which revealed vacation rentals were strong over the summer.

According to the survey’s findings, 68% of homeowners who rent vacation properties in peak summer markets reported occupancy rates of 76% or higher, with owners netting an average weekly rental rate of $1,685 or $241 per night.

Comparatively, Smith Travel Research, Inc., a hotel industry research firm, reported the average occupancy rate for U.S. hotels from June to August was approximately 68% with an average rate of $101.99 per room.

“Drive markets are popular among families and groups because of the convenience it has over flying,” Alexis de Belloy, senior vice president of HomeAway, tells MainStreet. “Often the top searched-for destinations for travelers are within the same state.”

De Belloy says HomeAway does expect rental business to remain solid through the holidays to the end of this year.