You've decided that, even if economic conditions don't improve, you need a vacation - probably not a month-long jaunt through Greece and Italy, but a vacation nonetheless.
If you're like many other Americans, according to industry analysts, you'll travel domestically this year. You may well stay close to home, and you may not fly, taking the train, a bus or your car instead.This summer, analysts agree, most travelers will stay on this continent, vacationing in the United States or Canada. They add that many will stay close to home, taking their vacations three or four days at a time.
Here are some predictions of hotspots this summer:
- National parks. Yosemite National Park in California is celebrating its centennial this year.
- Cities like San Francisco and San Diego. The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau has launched a campaign selling the city as the "ideal urban vacation."
- Canada. Most Americans consider the country safe and it's close to many American cities.
- Mexico. Courtney MacInnis of the American Society of Travel Agents says people are looking for places that offer value and, secondarily, enjoy great popularity. Mexico fits the bill, she says, becoming one of the most popular destinations this past winter.
- Hawaii, Florida and the Caribbean. Depending on where you live, your neighbors may well end up at one of these three destinations. Like Mexico, they offer good values, Ms. MacInnis says.
While Europe, given the recession and lingering fears of terrorism, seems unlikely to prove as popular as in past years, Americans who do venture overseas are likely to find bargains.
One city hoping to cash in on domestic travel, along with the wave of patriotism in the wake of the Gulf war, is Washington, D.C.
As the war raged on, tourists - especially student groups - canceled their spring tours to the capital. Now, though, some of the same groups are calling to get back their old slots, said Tom Murphy, spokesman for Washington's visitors association.
Both the White House and Pentagon - popular tourist stops that were off-limits during the Gulf crisis - are likely to reopen near April 1. Murphy hopes that will boost Washington's chances for summer vacations, hurt somewhat by the rumors started soon after the war that Washington had closed down.
"That's real good news," he said. "I think that will put everything back on track."
All in all, the Washington D.C. Convention and Visitors Association expects to come close to the city's yearly average of approximately 20 million visitors a year. Of those, 14 million to 15 million are tourists, and most come in the peak spring and summer seasons.
Murphy believes the National Park Service's plans for a Memorial Day parade welcoming back the Gulf war soldiers also should draw large crowds. And July 4 is always big in Washington.
"I think we are going to have a very strong summer," Murphy said. "Recession or no recession, Washington is a real draw."