Travel to the United States was off 5 percent last year, but this didn’t change how people enter the country. The top 15 ports of entry owned 85 percent of all overseas visits, gaining a full percentage point from 2008. New York JFK, Miami and Los Angeles took the first three positions and took 39 percent of the total, also picking up a full percentage point of “arrival share” relative to 2008. Five of the top 15 ports of entry actually gained inbound traffic over 2008, three of them in Florida: Miami, Orlando, Houston, Philadelphia and Fort Lauderdale.
Municipalities are always feeling a financial squeeze, and the fallout from the financial crisis has only made an already grim norm even worse. It’s hard enough to get money for maintenance, let alone marketing. So, how can you get the info you need to plan your next park trip?
According to Inside Facebook, cities, counties and states are flocking to the social networking site to promote their parks to locals and prospective visitors from across the country and around the world. Most of the pages created, says Inside Facebook, focus on photos and Wall content, with few using notes and none really relying on Facebook’s discussion tools.
Most of the pages belonged to cities, though some states and counties were represented. Interestingly, larger destinations, such as New York City, Los Angeles County and Oregon haven’t experienced the level of success seen among smaller or less prominent locations. The little guy, it seems, already has a tight community feel that translates easily into a social media presence. Monterey, California’s page, for example, boasts 222 fans of a 61,000-person municipality. Meanwhile, Los Angeles County’s Department of Parks and Recreation Facebook page has only 55 fans. The county is home to 10 million people.Cost is among the reasons for the migration to Facebook. Using existing photos and content to populate a page brings no incremental cost to a medium that’s already free. Says Dan Costley, Monterey, California Park Recreation Superintendent: Literally we were told, ‘If you can borrow something from another department, cut back.’ You can look at something like Facebook and say, ‘Nobody is charging us for this.'” He continues, “So if it helps us save money and send the message to the right people, that’s always going to help us.”
Need some ideas? Check out these local park Facebook pages:
- City of Monterey
- Los Angeles County
- New York City
- State of Oregon
- Nashville, Arkansas
- Dobbs Ferry
- University City Dog Park
- Valparaiso, Indiana
Click here to become a fan of Gadling on Facebook.
[Photo: Flickr | Buck Forester]
What do you do when lenders take over two of your hotels, as your coping with the worst recession in seven decades? Well, if you’re Starwood Hotels, you make a $350 million bet with a single property from your W line. The hotel opened on January 15, 2010, and it’s banking on the reputation of Los Angeles as the center of the entertainment world. Located on Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, the new W Hotel hopes to attract star-struck tourists who want to get up close and personal with the movie industry.
The only problem is that fewer and fewer people are heading out to Los Angeles, which is putting a bit of a squeeze on the new property. There’s an opportunity hidden in the situation, however. Carlos Becil, W’s North American vice president, says, “When we come out of this down cycle we’ll own the upswing with all these newer hotels,” Becil said to Bloomberg News.
The financial crisis has been particularly hard on the W chain. The W San Diego was taken back by its lenders after Sunstone Hotel Investors, which had owned the property, couldn’t get the terms of its $65 million securitized mortgage changed. The W New York Union Square was bought by Dubai World in 2006. Well, it missed a payment, which wound up pushing the property onto the auction block back in December. Dubai World also has an interest in the W Washington, D.C., a loan on which is 30 days delinquent. The debt servicer and borrower are working on a solution.
Auto dealerships, smacked by the recession, have shut down across the country, but many of those buildings are coming back to life. These large, empty buildings have become restaurants, schools, yoga studios and even art galleries. It’s not just empty dealerships – shuttered businesses of all kinds are giving way to new attractions that can add color to any trip. Just down the road from me, an empty commercial spot on Central Park West became home to a 10-artist exhibition for several weeks. These are the surprises that can turn any vacation into something truly memorable.
The opportunities aren’t just in New York; you can find them around the country. Art students from the Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio have taken advantage of an empty local dealership to bring a new energy to an empty space. The school has invested $8.3 million in the space.
[Photo by David Hilowitz via Flickr]
It’s not exactly shocking to see that New York City is the most expensive city in the United States. Groceries, gasoline and other items tend to run a tad more than twice the national average. Whether you rent or buy, you’ll spend a fortune in this city, where the average price for a home is $1.1 million and an apartment, on average, will cost $3,400 a month.
So, how can so many bloggers live here? Remember: these are averages. That means someone has to be on the underside of them.
Housing prices were also among the reasons why San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. worked their way into top spots on the list. Average home prices shot past $600,000 in all four of these cities. In Austin, the average home price is a much more modest $226,998, and it’s even more comfortable in Nashville, at $201,020.
The measure used to determine the cost of leaving in each of the cities is based on expenses in six categories: groceries, housing (rent/mortgage), healthcare, utilities, transportation and miscellaneous items. The prices of 57 goods in these categories were used.Six of the most expensive cities in the country are in California, with four of them among the top 10. Texas has four – Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. Most of the costliest cities are on the two coasts, though Chicago (14), Las Vegas (18), Phoenix (25) and St. Louis (35) made the top 40.
The most surprising appearance on the list of most expensive places to live is Detroit. Even though it’s plagued by unemployment of 16.7 percent, utilities are expensive. Electricity costs an average of $243.56 a month, compared to a mere $141.64 in Atlanta.
The ten most expensive cities on the list are:
- New York City
- San Francisco
- San Jose
- Los Angeles
- Washington DC
- San Diego
Check out the full list here.
[Photo via MigrantBlogger]