Travel

High-priced Hawaii

Hawaii is the most expensive state to vacation in, by far, costing two adults an average of $793 a day for food and lodging alone, according to an AAA survey released.

State tourism officials said the figure was grossly inflated.

The auto club's recommended daily budget for visitors to the Aloha State is triple the national average of $244 and more than double New York, the second-most expensive state at $320.

Nevada ($301) is third, followed by Florida ($289) and Massachusetts ($287) in AAA's 2008 Annual Vacation Costs Survey. The figures do not include airfare and other costs.

Accommodations in Hawaii, at an average of $675 a night, propelled the state to the overall No. 1. The national average is $164 per night.

AAA said the lodging rates were calculated based on the most recent “published rates” for the more than 60,000 AAA approved properties. The published rates are also known as “rack rates,” or the full price of hotel or motel room.

But Hawaii tourism liaison Marsha Wienert said daily expenditure this year for a tourist in Hawaii has averaged about $179 per person, well below AAA's estimate. Also, she said, many attractions, from the beaches to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, are free.

AAA spokeswoman Heather Hunter said the auto club's estimates were “budgeting guidelines” to be used as a travel planning tool.

Meanwhile, tourist arrivals and summer bookings in Hawaii have dipped after the sudden closing of Aloha and ATA Airlines and the continuing increase in fuel costs, which have pushed airfares higher.

International-bound

The economy is troubled, and the dollar is weak. But one forecast suggests that Americans aren't giving up international travel.

Travel organization AAA and Global Insight, a forecasting company, predicted 25.1 million Americans will take leisure trips outside the U.S. this summer, up 2.6 percent from last year. The forecast counts Canada and Mexico among international destinations.

“Those that choose to make these trips are reallocating their budgets,” said Ken McGill, executive managing director of Global Insight, a forecasting company. “Leisure travel has become not only a necessity to many American travelers, it's become almost a divine right.”

Vacationers will cut shopping and entertainment out of their travel budgets, and will cut household expenses before they nix travel plans, McGill said.

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