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Cities remain unavoidable. The same goes for tropical places like the Caribbean and Cancun.
In 2020, travelers avoided urban centers for beach towns and national parks, where it looked like a safer place, said Brian Hoyt of TripAdvisor.
But by last fall, Las Vegas, New York and Orlando had supplanted places like Key Largo, Key West and Atlantic City, which were the top three destinations for travelers in fall 2020, according to TripAdvisor.
The trend continues: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver, Orlando and New York are the five most booked destinations in the United States for fall, according to Hopper, a travel booking site. For international travelers, cities like San Juan, Puerto Rico; Cancun; Mexico City; Barcelona; and Rome are in the top 10, according to Hopper.
“What’s old becomes new again,” Hoyt said. “High-density population centers are all the rage again.”
But lesser holidays are always a draw. Ocean City, NJ, a beach town about 11 miles south of Atlantic City, was the top trending US destination this fall based on the number of nights booked, according to Airbnb. It’s part of a growing trend to extend the summer. There has been a surge of interest from visitors who flock to the eight miles of beach in September and October, when the summer crowds leave and the town hosts events like a vintage car show and a big neighborhood party and fireworkssaid Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Travelers remain eager to get to Europe, where demand for flights and hotel reservations is “on par” with 2019, said Kareem George, travel consultant and owner of Culture Traveller, firm specializing in luxury travel.
“Italy is the star,” Mr George said, “which is no surprise because Italy is always the star.”
London, Paris, Munich, Copenhagen and Dublin were the most searched cities for people wanting to travel between September 6 and November 15, according to Expedia.
The Amalfi Coast in southern Italy and Santorini, a whitewashed Greek island in the Aegean Sea, are so popular this fall that travelers are struggling to find accommodation, said Charles Neville, spokesman for Jaywaya boutique travel agency specializing in European travel.
People are so eager to visit these destinations that they’re willing to spend $600 to $700 a night on accommodations that may not justify that amount, he said.
Mr Neville said he was encouraging guests to book later in the fall when the weather is still pleasant and the crowds have died down, or to consider Sicily, Croatia and lesser-known islands in Greece like Paros and Naxos. “Maybe it’s a way to fulfill your dreams of a Greek island vacation without spending stupid money,” he said.
In the Americas, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Costa Rica are seeing more passengers booking trips than in 2019, said Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights. The countries are easy to get to and airfare is generally cheap – round-trip fare from almost anywhere in the US to Colombia was selling for around $260 in August, he said .
“For a lot of people, the trip they want to take as their first trip home is fun, overseas, but not too far,” Mr Keyes said.
That kind of ease is what Silvia Sims, a retired sales manager who lives in suburban Detroit, said she and her three friends wanted when they started planning their fall trip last May. They settled in Jamaica, where Ms Sims, 71, has traveled nearly a dozen times since the early 1980s but had not been since April 2019.
“I’m going back to a place where I really like to visit and feel safe,” she said. —Maria Cramer