Kailua-Kona is the top U.S. Destination on the Rise for 2013, the world’s largest travel website, TripAdvisor.com, announced this week.
The West Hawaii town earned the title based on the reviews and opinions of millions of TripAdvisor travelers. Anchorage, Alaska, took second and Destin, Fla., placed third on the 2013 Travelers’ Choice Top 10 Destinations on the Rise in the U.S. list.
“This is huge,” Kailua Village Business Improvement District Executive Director Debbie Baker said of the town’s position at the top of the list. “TripAdvisor is a huge voice in travel and tourism — used by hundreds of thousands of people.”
She said earning the designation is a “huge honor” for Kailua-Kona and a reflection of all the hard work by organizations, businesses and individuals in the community who “have come together to celebrate this place and the things that make it so special.” She hopes it will mean increased business in the future.
“They’re looking at us,” she said of people making Kailua-Kona their travel destination.
Ross Birch, executive director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau, said Kailua-Kona’s ranking “will take us a long way.” He theorized that Kailua-Kona is a destination on the rise because of the number of new activities available, such as a zip-line tour in the area and manta ray dives, as well as upgrades to the area’s affordable and quality accommodations.
“Being on the rise is always is a good thing. If you’re a destination on the rise it means there is more interest,” he said, also noting that the bureau, and its partners, which include hoteliers and activities-related businesses, have been working to increase visitor demand for the island.
No other Hawaii locations made the Top 10 Destinations on the Rise in the U.S. list, which was released Tuesday. TripAdvisor also released its Top 10 Destinations on the Rise in the World list as well as rankings for other regions including Europe, Asia, South America and the South Pacific.
Topping the world list was Havana, followed by La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica, and Kathmandu, Nepal. Christchurch, New Zealand, topped the list for rising destinations in the South Pacific.
Kailua-Kona and the others were among 84 destinations worldwide recognized for seeing the greatest increase in positive traveler feedback and traveler interest, year-over-year, according to TripAdvisor.
“For travelers looking for inspiration for their 2014 travel planning, TripAdvisor travelers have helped us put a spotlight on some amazing destinations that caught the eye of travelers this past year,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. “Between large cities gathering steam and off-the-beaten-path spots surfaced by our community, travelers can discover wonderful accommodations, attractions and restaurants in all of these award-winning destinations.”
Kailua-Kona in May earned the 22nd spot on TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Travelers’ Choice U.S. Destinations. The destinations included on the list are selected based on popularity, taking into account travelers’ favorites and most highly rated places. Also on the list from Hawaii were Honolulu, which earned the ninth spot on the list, and Lahaina, Maui, at 18.
TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site that enables travelers to plan and have the perfect trip. According to the company, more than 260 million people visit the site every month that provides more than 125 million reviews and opinions covering more than 3.1 million accommodations, attractions and restaurants.
Hawaii Tourism Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Mike McCartney did not respond to West Hawaii Today’s requests for comment on the designation as of press time Wednesday.
For the complete list of winners from the 2013 Travelers’ Choice Awards for Destinations on the Rise, visit tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-DestinationsontheRise.