What did American travelers pay for accommodation abroad?
Download the full list of cities analyzed.
More U.S. citizens have a passport than ever before…
…and they want to get out and experience the world
The myth that only 10% of the U.S. population has a passport has been well and truly disproved in 2017. Last year saw more than 40% of Americans being able to travel overseas. This rise is thought to be due to young Americans looking to spend their millennial money on ‘experiences’ rather than home comforts, and that means heading out internationally.
Many markets reported record visitor numbers in 2017 (international tourist arrivals grew by 7%, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer) and this might be why U.S. travelers found themselves paying more for their overnight accommodations in 70% of their Top 50 international destinations, reversing the trend of 2016. The rises didn’t hit pockets too hard though as most were below 10%.
- Most popular outbound region: Europe
- Best value region: Asia
- Largest average price increase: Lisbon at +13%
- Largest average price drop: Dubai at -6%
2017 saw Canada celebrating its 150th birthday and Montreal’s 375th; the country partied for an entire year and invited the rest of the world to enjoy it with them. This contributed to a healthy rise in visitor numbers, including a 3% rise in travelers from the U.S. who enjoyed a favorable exchange rate.
Toronto and Montreal were in Americans’ Top 10 international destinations, with Niagara Falls and Vancouver making it into the Top 25 and all cities saw a rise in average price. Interestingly, Vancouver was the 3rd most popular city with U.S. travelers and posted the highest percentage increase (11%), thrusting the city into the Top 10 list of highest nightly averages paid.
South of the border
Mixed results from Latin America: Average prices rose in Mexico, but fell in other countries
The U.S. market is easily the most important for Mexico and ranks 4th as the most popular destination for U.S. travelers. As such, Mexico has experienced steady price increases since 2016. Mexico City and Cancun were both up 4% while Puerto Vallarta increased 3%. Playa Del Carmen had the highest average price south of the border for U.S. travelers at $247 a night – an increase of 2%.
South America proved a better value for U.S. travelers as Buenos Aires saw average prices drop 3%. Similarly, Bogota felt a 1% drop and Colombia’s capital was the only Latin American Top 50 destination where the average price was under $100.
U.S. travelers flocked to the other side of the pond in 2017
Spain overtook the U.S. as the 2nd most visited place on earth
With a haul of 5 destinations in the Top 10 most popular international destinations and accounting for almost half of the Top 50, European cities were by far the preferred choices for U.S. travelers. This could well be the effect of people ‘seeking experiences’ that we spoke about above. Prices rose in all but one of those places (looking at you, London).
The UK capital was the #1 international destination for Americans and the continuing weak pound delighted them as they benefited from a 2% fall in average prices paid. It may have been the only European city that saw a decrease in price, but London was 2nd – behind Reykjavik – in terms of highest prices.
Lots of Americans were searching for a fiesta in Spain as it became the 2nd most visited country in the world in 2017. U.S travelers put Barcelona at number 7 and Madrid (which saw an 11% price rise) at number 14 of their Top 20 favorite international destinations.
Portugal and Greece were both stand out destinations in 2017 in terms of record visitor numbers. Lisbon led the way in European price increases, posting a 13% rise from 2016 prices paid. Athens’ garnered a rise of 5% as the tourism industry accounted for 8 out of 10 new jobs in Greece in 2017.
The highest and lowest average price count goes like this (among the Top 100):
- Reykjavik, known as a pricey destination, kept with the trend and was home to the highest nightly average price Americans paid for a place to stay in Europe at $240 per night (up 5% on 2016).
- Travelers to Istanbul found the best value in Europe, paying less than half that ($92/night) – and that’s including a 5% rise in 2017.
The best value, the world’s most visited city and 13 destinations in the Top 50. That’s where Asia’s at…
With 13 Asian destinations among Americans’ Top 50 international favorites, 5 saw average nightly prices paid fall and 6 saw a rise. The continent was still a tremendously good value for U.S. travelers. Popular destinations included Chiang Mai, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok which all averaged below $100 per night.
Thailand was the most popular country in the region for U.S. travelers as it welcomed 35 million visitors, with Phuket, Chiang Mai and Bangkok also in the Top 50 list. Also highly visited by international travelers, Hong Kong saw a 5% price rise, garnering the 3rd highest price paid in popular Asian cities.
Kyoto ($180) and Tokyo ($177) were the only 2 Asian cities with a higher average nightly price than Hong Kong for U.S. travelers, yet both saw decreases on 2016 average prices, potentially caused in part by the Japanese Yen falling in value against the dollar.
Rest of the World
Heading Down Under, Australia welcomed nearly 9 million visitors to its shores in 2017, with Sydney and Melbourne both making the U.S. travelers’ Top 50 international favorites. The boost in tourism likely contributed to the 5% rise in average price paid in Sydney. Melbourne stayed exactly the same as 2016 at $149/night.
A whole host of hotel openings in Dubai ensured competition was stiff. This meant that even though there was a 6% increase in visitors from the U.S. compared to 2016, the average price of a room fell 6% from the previous year. There’s a bit of cabbage to put back into exploring all the over-the-top luxuries and activities the desert oasis has to offer.
Among the U.S. territories, San Juan in Puerto Rico was 46 in the Top 50 list. Although it only saw a 3% rise in price across all of 2017 and gained international fame thanks to hit song ‘Despacito,’ it remains to be seen how the aftermath of Hurricane Maria will affect 2018. Many hotels are open, restored and eager to show off the beautiful island – no passport needed!