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Travel News & Trends

Fast Facts [PDF]: Tourism-related facts from the Travel Industry Association (TIA) and the NC Department of Commerce.

Travel Trends 


Wine Marketing Campaign - North Carolina is among the top 10 states for wine production with more than 100 wineries, and has been recognized as one of the top five culinary tourism states. The campaign's goals are to increase visitation and spending at NC wineries; broaden awareness and credibility both in-state and nationally for NC wines; deliver downstream referrals from the NC Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development websites to individual NC winery sites to spark interest and visitation; and help increase demand for NC wines beyond wineries as a result of growing visitation. (visitncnewslink, June 13, 2012)
Hotel Lobbies Become Multi-Use Spaces– As hotels transform their once-sterile lobbies into multi-use spaces, they’re hoping people will eat, drink, work, socialize – or all of the above – within the renovated areas. Some business travelers are taking advantage of the space for business meetings, noting meeting in hotel rooms or a restaurant can be awkward, so this is more comfortable. The investment, so far, is paying off: As revenues from in-room amenities such as pay-per-view movies and telephones dry up, hotels are reporting higher food and beverage sales in their public spaces. Expect hotel lobbies to continue to evolve for a hipper, more technologically savvy crowd.

Last month, Hilton Worldwide announced that through LightStay, its sustainability management platform, all of the company’s 3,750 plus hotel would have an automated process to give donations to charities.  Hilton Worldwide also announced its partnership with the Global Soap Project.  These two efforts by Hilton Worldwide are only two small examples of the many ways that the tourism industry actively participates in charitable giving.  Almost every national brand and industry leader has a corporate social responsibility program in place.  A new twist on giving is the number of tourism-related organizations that are providing volunteer and giving opportunities to their guests and clients. Organizations like Visit Raleigh work to connect visitors to volunteer opportunities in the community.  For more information on volunteer tourism, visit the Travelers’ Philanthropy.  For more information about sustainability in tourism, contact the N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach.

Parks Embracing Cellphones-- Once reviled by park rangers as an unfortunate distraction, lately cellphones are being embraced by national, state and local parks as a way to educate a more connected public. Cellphone hiking tours are also popping up in parks run by the National Park Service as well as other more regional nature preserves. State parks in North Carolina have a downloadable Pocket Ranger Mobile Tour Guide for Apple iPod and iPhone and Adroid smartphones that allows visitors to plan and explore state parks with details readily at hand about park locations, trails, facilities, reservations, events and special news alerts. (May, 2011)

As Vacation Rentals Gain Popularity, Online Sites Increase Listings - Vacation rentals, once an ugly duckling of the travel industry, are getting their turn at the spotlight with more vacations exploring renting homes, investors are pouring money into online portals that match-make homeowners with travelers struck with hotel fatigue. Aimed largely at families who want to stretch out with a spacious living room and kitchen, vacations rentals--which include privately owned homes and condos, and unoccupied timeshares - has been a fragmented market that's been growing even as it's been slow to turn to the Internet for sales. (May, 2011)

Amex Survey Predicts Increase in Holiday Travel Spending– Forty-two percent of Americans plan to increase their holiday travel budget compared to last year, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. No matter where consumers choose to go, there is a clear interest in getting more out of travel, according to the study. From dining to adventure, it’s all about making memories. More consumers also plan to dine out (31 percent versus 20 percent in 2010) and take part in entertainment-focused activities (24 percent versus 20 percent in 2010). Twenty-one percent are taking a longer trip, 19 percent are staying in better accommodations and 17 percent are traveling with more people. Twelve percent are choosing a more-expensive destination and 6 percent are flying first or business class.

NC’s 100th Winery (January 2011)
Cauble Creek Vineyards in Salisbury, NC celebrated being NC’s 100th winery on Thursday, January 27, 2011.  Governor Beverly Perdue and others came out to help celebrate NC’s growing wine business!  NC ranks 7th in the nation for wine production and 10th in grape production. 

Orbitz Reveals Most-Searched Hotel Amenities of 2010 (January 2011)
Online travel agency crunched its search data from 2010 to shed some light on what are the most-searched hotel amenities. The results from its analysis, Orbitz says, should tell a bit about what will drive booking decisions in 2011. Online travel sites increasingly let travel shoppers filter potential hotels by the type of amenity they offer, in addition to basics such as specific hotel name, location, rate and some sort of quality rating. Orbitz shoppers searched most for free parking/airport shuttle, swimming pool, pets welcome and spa/fitness center..

Youth Matters: the Most Neglected Travel Market (November 2010)
One can measure the importance of the youth travel market in numbers or in its changing makeup but it’s perhaps best viewed in its immense potential to a wide spectrum across the travel market. The youth market is a $136 billion worldwide enterprise. Young travelers are usually defined as aged 16 to 29. In some surveys, that market has grown faster than most other travel segments. Studies show that young travelers spend more than those in other travel sectors, spend four times longer traveling to a destination than the average visitor, spending$2600 per trip, and have a higher lifetime value than other travel sectors because the backpackers and students of today are tomorrow’s honeymooners, family, business and leisure travelers. To find out more, visit

Travelhorizons Survey Reveals How Travelers Use Social Media (January 2010)
The results of the most recent travelhorizons survey reveal how new forms of social media have influenced consumer choice when it comes to evaluating and purchasing travel services. According to the nationally representative survey of just over 2,200 U.S. adults, co-authored every 90 days by Partnership and the U.S. Travel Association with the latest conducted in October 2009, almost six out of 10 (59 percent) of active travelers have visited a social networking site. Their most popular activities while on these sites include uploading photos/videos (49 percent) and rating products or services (46 percent).Roughly one-quarter have visited a chat room and/or posted content to a blog. Nearly half (46 percent) check new postings to their site(s) at least once a day.

Amex Survey Finds Consumers Still Plan On Traveling (January 2010)
The "American Express Spending & Saving Tracker," the fifth in a monthly series, found that this year consumers are most focused on their financial well-being, and are approaching the year with an optimistic but prudent financial outlook. Travel tops the list of pursuits consumers rank most valuable to their livelihood and well-being with 72%, ahead of home entertaining with friends or family (66%), and dining out (60%). The survey found that 31% of the general population plans to take a vacation between now and the end of March and more so among affluents (51%) and young professionals (54%). Among all those scheduling a winter vacation, an average of two trips is planned.

UNWTO Survey Sees Tourism on Track for a Rebound (January 2010)
Growth returned to international tourism in the last quarter of 2009 contributing to better than expected full-year results, according to the latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Prospects have also improved with arrivals now forecast to grow between 3 percent and 4 percent in 2010.

Landmark Study Reveals ROI of Business Travel (September 2009)
New research conducted by global research firm Oxford Economics establishes the first clear link between business travel and business growth as American businesses are planning their 2010 budgets and federal policy makers are looking to stimulate the American economy. For every dollar invested in business travel, businesses experience an average $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits, according to the study. 

Past Decade Saw Strong Growth for NC Wine Industry
Recently, the N.C. Wine & Grape Council offered a look back at a few of the highlights from the prosperous decade of the 2000s:

  • N.C. wineries more than quadrupled in growth from 21 in 2000 to 89 in 2009
  • Three appellations were established in N.C., starting with Yadkin Valley AVA in 2003, Swan Creek AVA in 2008, and Haw River Valley AVA in 2009
  • N.C. wine production climbed from off the charts in 2000 to now rank 8th in the U.S. in 2009
  • Grape production in N.C. jumped from ranking 12th in the U.S. in 2000 to 9th in 2009
  • Grape bearing acres in N.C. grew from 600 in 2000 to 1,700 in 2009
  • Biltmore Winery became the most visited winery in the U.S.
  • Duplin Winery became the largest Muscadine wine producer in the U.S.

To find out more about the N.C. Wine & Grape Council, including to sign-up for its consumer e-newsletter, "Uncorked," click here.

*Several of the Travel Trends stories were taken from the NC Division of Tourism, Film & Sports Development weekly NewsLink e-publication.  If you would like to receive NewsLink, visit

Successful Meetings website

NC Department of Commerce Tourism page

NC Department of Commerce Tourism Events

Travel Pulse website

U.S Travel Association

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