Travel to both domestic and international destinations bounced back in December, but only modestly after big November losses drove domestic flight purchases down 19 percent and international travel declined by 16 percent since October. Skiers drove triple digit increases in travel to Montana and Wyoming, while a diverse set of international hotspots emerged in December. Read on for our full online travel findings.
December’s top 10 domestic travel destinations for MoM changes
Every month, we analyze flights booked by US residents on Expedia, Orbitz and United Airlines to identify the top ten domestic and international travel destinations by month-over-month changes in booking activity. This month, we found that impressive increases in flight bookings for eight of the ten leading domestic destinations drove domestic flight purchases within the US up four percent over November
Jackson Hole, WY took first place with a 155 percent increase in flights purchased since November. December’s booking volumes for Jackson Hole also surpassed the average for the previous seven months, since we began our analysis, by 92 percent.
Such an increase might be explained by winter sports enthusiasts traveling to ski in the Rockies, though upcoming events might have also influenced flight bookings. Another possible destination for winter sports participants, Bozeman, MT, claimed second place, with twice the flights booked in December compared to November.
The East Coast gained popularity in December, as five of the top ten domestic destinations were east coast destinations, all but Savannah, GA, saw substantial increases in flight purchases MoM. Snowbirds flocking to Sarasota and Tampa, FL or Charleston, SC could possibly explain the increased booking activity.
The only other top ten domestic destination to see decreased flight bookings MoM was Tulsa, OK. As in November, flights to Midwestern cities, like Tulsa, reached an all time low, with activity in December 69 percent lower than the prior seven month average.
|1||Jackson Hole, WY||155%|
December’s top 10 international hotspots for MoM changes in bookings
In December, international flight bookings increased by five percent over November. December’s leading destinations included exotic and warmer climate locations in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and Southeast Asia, as well as two not-so-warm Eastern European countries.
Romania claimed first place with a 136 percent increase in flights purchased over November, when this Eastern European nation suffered the biggest loss with flight purchases down 58 percent from October. Nearby Poland debuted as number two on our top ten list with a 65 percent MoM increase in flights booked during December.
Snowbirds headed beyond the mainland drove large increases in flights booked to the U.S. Virgin Islands in December, driving it to third place in our list. This spike in flight purchases was also a 76 percent increase on the average flight bookings for the previous seven months.
Flights to Central and South America saw increased booking activity in December. Argentina, Nicaragua and Belize saw at least a 53 percent MoM increase. However, flights booked to Argentina in December were down 27 percent from the average for the prior seven month. Nicaragua and Belize, on the other hand, saw a 24 percent increase in December compared to the prior seven month average. Surprisingly, Guatemala went against the trend Central American, with bookings down 61 percent in December.
|3||U.S. Virgin Islands||65%|
It’s worth mentioning that flights to China, both mainland and Taiwan, saw a 17 percent MoM decrease in purchases during December, driving booking activity far below the prior seven month average.
Bottom line: Multiple factors impact travel, from weather to holidays, back-to-school and domestic or international politics. Consider how flight purchases to Cuba increased since travel restrictions were relaxed, and how flights to China were down following the election of Donald J. Trump as US President. Will potential instability slow travel to Mexico? Will Brexit-related travel issues impact travel to European destinations? Stay with us in 2017 and we’ll find out together.