The growth in travel comes despite uncertainty such as Brexit, the wildfires in California, drought in South Africa and earthquakes in Japan. Travelers also showed resilience and renewed confidence in destinations touched by unrest like Paris, Egypt and Turkey, as well as regions experiencing currency fluctuations like South America, and areas in North America affected by natural disaster.
A few of the study’s key findings:
Around the Globe
- The Caribbean HPI continues its nine-year growth trajectory, setting an all-time high by rising eight points to 151, an increase of 5 percent, and retaining its perception as an aspirational holiday destination.
- The Asia HPI retains its position as the lowest regional HPI at 102, showing little growth since 2013 and continuing to offer incredible value to travelers.
- Although recording no change in its HPI of 126 since 2017, the Pacific still has the third-highest regional index, behind the Caribbean and Latin America, as a premium holiday destination, particularly for families.
U.S. and Canada
- Despite the impact of the California wildfires and two major hurricanes hitting the Carolinas and Florida, the U.S. hotel industry saw growth among domestic travelers with average prices rising in 27 of the top 50 destinations.
- Las Vegas once again topped the list of most popular domestic destinations for American travelers, with New Yorkcoming in second. Orlando, San Diego and Chicago rounded out the top five respectively.
- Overseas guests paid 2 percent more for their hotel accommodations in the U.S. per night than in 2017, as averages rose in 33 of the top 50 destinations for international travelers.
- 2018 was the best year on record for Canadian tourism, with international travelers surpassing 21 million (21.13 million) for the first time ever. A record-breaking 14.44 million U.S. travelers visited Canada in 2018, the highest recorded since 2004.
- Toronto topped the most popular Canadian destinations for international travelers, with Vancouver coming in second. Montreal, Niagara Falls and Calgary rounded out the top five most popular respectively.
Destinations on the Rise
Among the destinations that rose to the top for American and Canadian travelers in 2018 were Ireland, Japan and Turkey.
Flexible visa requirements in some markets and a visit from Pope Francis in August helped Ireland bring in more than 10 million travelers in 2018, a record high. American travelers paid 10 percent more for accommodations in Dublin, an average of $207 per night.
In Japan, Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, visitor numbers grew by almost 9 percent for a record high of almost 32 million. Osakaand Kyoto both rose more than 10 spots on the list of the U.S. and Canada’s most popular international destinations.
Turkey’s tourism is booming despite a financially difficult year in 2018, with Istanbul jumping more than 10 spots in the top 50 most popular destinations for both the U.S. and Canada. International visitors went up by 22 percent in Turkeyand Istanbul recorded the highest rise in price paid by American travelers in 2018.
Luxury for Less
Both American and Canadian travelers paid quite a bit less to enjoy four-star and five-star accommodations in 2018, at home and internationally.
For American travelers, three destinations saw their five-star rates drop by 13 percent: Charlotte ($282 per night) and Louisville ($226 per night) in the U.S., and Reykjavik. In Iceland, the tourism boom of the past few years has continued to slow down, which brought down the average price paid per night to $478.
For Canadian travelers, three U.S. destinations saw their five-star rates drop considerably: Nashville by 24 percent ($321per night), Portland by 15 percent ($251 per night) and New Orleans was also down by 15 percent ($325 per night).
Katie Junod, general manager of the Hotels.com brand in North America, said, “HPI has always given us a good barometer on the industry and helps give us an insight into global travel trends. This year we have seen growth despite a lot of political challenges and natural disasters, which indicates that the industry shows no signs of slowing down.”
The HPI was set at 100 in its inaugural year, 2004. The index format allows Hotels.com to highlight year-over-year variations in actual prices paid* per night by travelers without foreign exchange fluctuations distorting the picture.
In addition to the great value destinations and hidden gems found in the HPI, travelers who haven’t padded their wallets with cryptocurrency yet can take advantage of programs like Hotels.com™ Rewards, which lets them earn free* nights while they sleep.
ᶧNote: Reward Nights are exclusive of taxes and fees. The value of the reward night corresponds to the average accommodation price of the 10 previously collected overnight stays. Registration and booking are available through the www.hotels.com website, as well as the Hotels.com app on the Apple Store and on Google Play. Secret Prices are available to Hotels.com app users, Hotels.com Rewards members, and individuals who unlock Secret Prices on the website by subscribing to Hotels.com by email. Secret Prices will be shown where the “Your Secret Price” banner is displayed on your search results. Available on selected hotels and selected dates only. Subject to full terms and conditions.
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