Top Ten Travel Stories of 2008

#7: Attacks on Tourist Destinations in Mumbai



In late November, gunshots in a train station in India's bustling city of Mumbai set off a string of terror attacks across the city. More violence and explosions followed at two luxury hotels, a cafe popular with foreigners, a hospital and a Jewish community center.

In the days that followed the three-day assault, investigators continued to put together the pieces. At the same time, concerns about security at elite travelers' destinations came to light as people considered whether popular international hotels were susceptible to attack. Plaqued by additional threats, airports in India remained on high alert in early December.

#8: A Surge in Public Transit



In the U.S., the economy prompted many people to take a practical approach and chose public transit. Numbers released from the American Public Transit Association today showed that the third quarter of 2008 saw the largest quarterly increase in public transportation ridership in 25 years. Commuters remained on buses, trains and metros at record levels even as gas prices started to fall. According to the report, people took 2.8 billion trips on public transit during the months of July, August and September, a 6.5 percent increase over the same quarter of 2007.

Whether a financial decision or an environmental one, people from New York to Portland and Paris also increasingly turned to bicycles to get around town. Even convention goers had the option to bike instead of drive.

#9: Staying Home and Cutting Back



One travel trend that emerged this year? Not traveling at all. For many Americans, the tight economy meant staying closer to home -- many because they opted not to spend money on flights, hotels and gas, others because they had no choice. In smaller towns, airports offered fewer flights out than ever when carriers stopped serving the airports to save money. Fall flight schedules revealed that U.S. airlines slashed flights to such an extent that by year's end, domestic passengers would have an estimated 2,500 fewer commercial flights to choose from each day.

Business travelers, too, felt the crunch. To save a dime, workplaces looked to virtual conferences. CEOs steered clear of private planes. Room in the front of the plane, typically filled with business travelers, was suddenly (relatively speaking) a steal.

"Next year the big issue is going to be business travel, it takes two or three, maybe even four leisure travels, to make up a business travel ticket," FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney told ABC News in late November. "If business start pulling back, its going to be a lot harder for the airlines to make the revenue they want on each flight."

#10: Planning Inauguration Vacations



One trip travelers do seem willing to take is a January vacation to Washington, D.C. City officials in the nation's capital are planning for as many as 4 million people in town in winter 2009 to witness the inauguration of President-elect Obama. Washington's hotel rooms filled quickly for the Jan. 20 festivities. Local D.C. residents prepared for visiting friends to crash on their couches. Others jumped at the opportunity to rent out their apartments and houses for exorbitant prices. Even chilly campgrounds saw a surge in business.

Lawmakers had 240,000 tickets to distribute but were being inundated with requests that far exceeded that number. Airlines, too, were adding flights into Washington to accomodate an influx of tourists.

"It's been a long time since we've seen this hype for inauguration," FareCompare.com Seaney said.

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