More than 60 million tourists descend on New York City every year, and they have to sleep somewhere. That simple fact has inspired co-op and condo boards to pass rules against short-term apartment sublets, it has led the hospitality industry to lobby aggressively against Airbnb and other home-share websites, and it has driven the city to impose stiff fines on people who turn their apartments into illegal hotels.
Good news! Airbnb has released its top trending travel destinations for 2019 – and New York City is not even on the list! The home-sharing company ranked the destinations according to internal data showing year-on-year increases in bookings, searches, and additions to user “wish lists” made for 2019 as of October 2018, vs. those actions made for 2018 as of October 2017, Crain’s reports. Topping the list for 2019 is that hot spot Kaikoura, New Zealand, followed by Xiamen, China, and Puebla, Mexico. The closest destination in the Top 20 to New York City is #11, the Catskills and the Hudson River Valley. What gives? Has everybody already seen “The Lion King”?
It’s actually even simpler than that. “Many destinations, like Kaikoura, Puebla, and the Great Smoky Mountains, are coming back in a big way following recent hardship, from earthquakes to wildfires,” says Ali Killam, consumer trends spokesperson for Airbnb. Those disasters, Airbnb speculates, may in fact be driving tourists to such destinations. For instance, the coastal town of Kaikoura, New Zealand, was heavily damaged by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2016, but has since seen a 295 percent increase in bookings and a 210 percent increase in searches. With transportation services now back online, visitors can view seals and other marine life in the waters surrounding the historic whaling town.
Airbnb continues to see travelers sidestepping major destinations such as New York City in favor of smaller or lesser-known places, according to Killam. “So much about an experience changes when you venture even just a little ways out of the major tourism hubs.”
For any New Yorker who has negotiated Times Square, this is a ray of good news for the new year.
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