Travel News

Go thank a tourist (really!), find fleeting deals at luxury hotels, and get back to nature with summer adventures in the Shenandoah Valley.

Already annoyed with the hordes of tourists clogging up your morning commute? You might reconsider when you hear this: With the dollars they spend here, tourists save DC residents about $2,300 in annual household taxes, according to a study released Tuesday by Destination DC. And tourism creates more than 66,000 jobs in Washington.

The 2009 Citywide Tourism study also found that this year has seen a promising incline in the tourism/hospitality industry compared to last year. In 2009, DC’s domestic visitation and visitor spending decreased a bit—by three and seven percent respectively—but these declines were mild compared to other cities. And thanks to 2010’s spring break, cherry-blossom season, conventions, and other citywide events, DC hospitality is back on track for this year.

Last year was undoubtedly the time to get good deals at otherwise pricey, upscale hotels. With the industry on the economic upturn, however, it’s a bit harder to find reduced rates, but it’s not impossible—and the sooner you book, the better. While five-star hotels in New York City have mostly recovered, hotels in other cities are still struggling and offering discounts. Las Vegas hotels—especially those newly opened—are prime places to pay less. And other West Coast cities—such as San Diego, Hawaii, Seattle, and Vancouver—have hotel rooms going for less than a year or two ago, according to Budget Travel.

So, how to find the hotel deal for you? Pauline Frommer recommends two hotel-search sites that scan hotel prices by city: Hotelscombined.com and Dealbase.com. You can also simply check packages offered on a hotel’s own Web site.

We saw a deal at Dealbase.com for the Las Vegas hotel the Flamingo, where prices started at just $40 a night. We also liked a hotel deal featured on TravelZoo: a steep discount on Morgans Hotel Group’s eccentric hotels across the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean. For these trendy, designer hotels that usually charge more than $400 a night, travelers who book by May 18 can get a night’s stay starting at $48 for travel through October. The best deal is at the Vegas location.

To round out our Las Vegas-savvy post here, we might as well tell you that Kayak.com is flaunting a $238 round trip flight to Las Vegas from Washington on select days throughout August and September. Check it out.

An unlikely nationwide Memorial Day fare sale is taking place across multiple airlines for the holiday weekend. American, AirTran, JetBlue, United, Virgin America, and others are offering discounted rates, starting at $54 each way for travel between May 27 and June 2. Travelzoo.com suggests departing May 27 and returning June 1 for the best deals. You can also do a super search on Travelzoo of multiple discount Web sites for the holiday weekend or check out the Memorial Day-deal page.

For a more local adventure, Shenandoah National Park has announced its family-friendly summer lineup of events and activities, all in the great outdoors. Activities include horseback riding along Shenandoah trails; twilight hikes in the Big Meadow; and a free, family-focused day of entertainment called Summerfest on June 19, with singers, dancers, local artisans, old-fashioned games, and food. For a complete list of events, go here or call 800-778-2872.

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