Travel Industry Sees High-Flying Holidays
Byline: Donna De Marco, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
It's beginning to look like a jolly holiday season for the travel industry as the economy gets stronger and consumers change their moods about vacationing away from home.
"There's a reverse in the cocooning [trend]," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Bank One. "We're leaning back into that willingness to go out, which was not the case two years ago or even last year."
Although most travelers are waiting until the last minute to make plans, some destinations already are showing signs of advanced bookings for the holiday season.
Grande Lakes Orlando, a complex that includes a 584-room Ritz Carlton and a 1,000-room J.W. Marriott hotel, has had a "tremendous upswing" in holiday bookings, particularly from the Washington region, said Bruce Seigel, director of marketing.
"There's a significant difference in advance bookings based on all [aspects]: the economy, world events and the way people feel about travel in general has turned the corner," Mr. Seigel said. "There's a tremendous enthusiasm out there in the industry for '03 and even better for '04."
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel is expecting a strong holiday season, said spokeswoman Treva Marshall.
"They are projecting for the hotel to be relatively full, if not sold out," Ms. Marshall said. "[Reservations] are moving at a very rapid pace at this point."
The latest Bank One report said many resorts from Florida to Colorado in September were fully booked for the two weeks around Christmas and New Year's Day. That's two months ahead of last year.
Travel industry officials said Americans held off on plans to vacation earlier in the year because of the sluggish economy and the war in Iraq. Now they have a better attitude about travel and are starting to consider holiday vacations.
"People do seem a lot more positive," said Deborah DeYoung, a AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman. …