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Published on Friday, January 9, 2009

Today's Travel Leaders Announce 2009 Travel Trends

Today, Travel Leaders (formerly Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates) unveiled the 2009 results of their authoritative annual Travel Trends Survey. The U.S. recession is playing a significant factor in various trends, and while Travel Leaders experts have indicated a slide in comparable year-over-year bookings, over 80% are either optimistic or neutral about the year ahead. Conducted November 20-December 15, 2008, the 2009 Travel Trends Survey includes responses from 547 Travel Leaders owners, managers and frontline travel experts throughout the United States--equivalent to more than one completed survey for every single location in the network.

"What we have witnessed with the U.S. economy is unlike anything we have seen in decades, and it is having a major impact on the traveling public and the travel industry," stated Roger E. Block, CTC, president of Travel Leaders, which includes 500 locations from coast to coast. "Despite the daily drumbeat of negative news on our economy and the general perception that everyone is staying home, it speaks volumes that when asked 'What are the top ways leisure travelers are saving money?' the five most frequent responses from our experts were (in order): being flexible with dates, staying at all-inclusives, using frequent flyer miles, taking a cruise, and booking only if there is a promotion or deal."

"Our Travel Leaders experts are counseling clients on creative ways to squeeze every ounce of value out of each travel experience. Nearly 41% of our experts indicated leisure travelers are saving money by shortening their trips, 22.1% are driving versus flying, and 21.6% are checking into different tier accommodations than before," continued Block. "The added benefits of working with a credible travel expert - like Travel Leaders - means taking advantage of trusted, reputable supplier partners and finding available and affordable air tickets by using air consolidators - which were the top two strategies our experts are deploying to assist clients. Just like the housing industry and the stock market, it is now a buyers' market when it comes to travel. Hopefully our survey results, particularly our Top Destinations, along with the incomparable incentives and promotions available will spur the public to travel."

Top Destinations: U.S. and International Based on 2009 Bookings:

Las Vegas maintained a slight edge over Orlando for the #1 spot domestically while the value of cruising, particularly in the Caribbean (Caribbean cruising) continues to outpace other international destinations to retain the top spot as the most popular international "destination."

Chicago soared 10 spots from 2008's annual survey to land at #10 in 2009. Being the hometown of President-elect Barack Obama may have stimulated renewed interest in the Windy City and those who visit in 2009 can experience "The Aztec World" exclusively at the Field Museum or the world premiere of "Harry Potter: The Exhibition" at the Science and Industry Museum, as well as festivities associated with the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth.

When asked to select the Top 3 Best Values for travel outside of the United States, Mexico ranked #1 garnering 84.3% of votes, followed by Cruising (61.1%) and the Caribbean (43.9%). This underscores why three out of the Top 5 and five out of the Top 10 International Destinations are in Mexico: Cancun (#2), Riviera Maya (#3), Puerto Vallarta (#4), Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos (#9) and Cruising Mexico (#10).

Record-setting jump in European River Cruises: Travel Leaders experts have touted for years that cruising in Europe is a tremendous value and exciting way to see a number of European splendors with minimal impact from currency fluctuations.

Clients are now clamoring for the more intimate river cruises in Europe as indicated by the astonishing 40 spot jump in this year's survey from #66 to #17. In addition, Mediterranean cruising continues to be extremely popular - holding steady at #5 on the list of top international destinations.

The growing interest and prominence of China on the world's stage, showcased by the 2008 Olympics, is evident with the continuing upward trend of both Beijing and Shanghai. Beijing gained two more spots, moving up to #16, while Shanghai jumped 11 spots to land in 19th place.


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