Travel Preferences: Australia and Hawaii

Survey findings from Travel Leaders Group reveal that Australia remains the most dreamed about destination for American travelers, followed by Italy, Bora Bora, Ireland and New Zealand.  Additionally, the data highlights Hawaii, California and Alaska as the most desirable U.S. destinations for vacation travelers. Survey findings from Travel Leaders Group reveal that Australia remains the most dreamed about destination for American travelers, followed by Italy, Bora Bora, Ireland and New Zealand.  Additionally, the data highlights Hawaii, California and Alaska as the most desirable U.S. destinations for vacation travelers. Travel Leaders reports:

“Australia is undeniably captivating to many Americans.  With a size mirroring that of the continental U.S., it offers immense variety from cosmopolitan cities to the rugged outback and from world-class beaches and the Great Barrier Reef to award-winning wine regions,” explains Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. 

Travel Leaders Group’s 2017 Consumer Travel Survey asked Americans to name their “ultimate dream destination” and the list includes:

  1. Australia
  2. Italy
  3. Bora Bora
  4. Ireland
  5. New Zealand
  6. Cruise – World
  7. Fiji
  8. Cruise – Europe (Mediterranean)
  9. Greek Islands
  10. Tahiti
  11. Cruise – Europe (River)
  12. (tie) Antarctica
  13. (tie) Cruise – South Pacific and Tahiti
  14. Cruise – Australia/New Zealand
  15. France 

When asked, “If you could take a trip anywhere in the U.S., where would you choose to go?” the list of top favorites included:

  1. Hawaii
  2. California
  3. Alaska
  4. Florida
  5. New York
  6. Arizona
  7. Colorado
  8. (tie) Maine
  9. (tie) Montana
  10. (tie) Washington
  11. (tie) Washington, D.C.

Where We’re Importing and Exporting

A glance at two maps – top import and expert country for each state in 2016 – reveals some interesting observations:

  • On the export side, Canada is the leading destination from 33 states (including Indiana and 25 of the other 31 east of the Mississippi River)
  • Mexico (six states) and China (four states) were next on the list
  • Among the more intriguing partnerships: Nevada’s exports are going to Switzerland
  • On the import side, nine countries are represented with China (23 states) and Canada (14 states) leading the way
  • Indiana and Oregon are the two states in which the lead importer is Ireland (Happy St. Patrick’s Day, by the way!)
  • Of Indiana’s four neighbors, China is tops in Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois, while Mexico (think auto industry) is the top partner with Michigan
  • Hawaii stands alone with its top partners of Indonesia (imports) and Australia (exports)

According to the American Enterprise Institute:

Last year, American companies sold $2.2 trillion worth of goods and services to buyers in other countries, and American companies and consumers purchased $2.7 trillion worth of imports from trading partners all around the world. Seven states – Michigan, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Washington and Texas – have their international trade represent more than 30% of their economic output.
Together, that volume of international trading activities represented 26% of the value of America’s $18.5 trillion in GDP in 2016. In terms of employment, more than 27 million American workers, about one in five, have jobs that are directly supported by trade with the rest of the world. Some states like California and Texas have more than two million jobs that are directly supported by international trade.

Corporate Tax Reform Would Benefit Nation, Workers

Abstract View of Urban Scene and Skyscrapers

Lawmakers and candidates on all sides of the political spectrum acknowledge reforming America’s corporate tax rate is overdue. President Obama has even suggested reducing the rate from 35% to 28%. Writing for Reason, Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center sums up the necessity for this, concluding it’s an optimal way to benefit both businesses and the workforce:

Even such high-tax nations as France have lower rates. However, the real competition comes from Canada (26.1 percent), Denmark (25 percent), the United Kingdom (20 percent) and the many countries, such as Ireland (12.5 percent), with rates below 20 percent. Moreover, competition is intensifying. Last June, the U.K. announced that it would cut its rate from 20 percent to 18 percent in the next five years. It’s now saying that it will lower the rate even further, to 17 percent. These reductions are the final stage of drastic cuts implemented since 2007, when the country’s companies faced a 30 percent tax rate. That’s a second wave of reduction since the rate was as high as 54 percent in the 1980s.

Now contrast this with the United States. In the 1980s, policymakers responded to the pressure put on by many countries lowering their corporate rates by decreasing America’s rate from 49.7 percent to 33 percent. However, since then, the U.S. has fallen asleep on the switch (and even raised the rate by 1 percentage point in the 1990s) and is now widely out of sync with internal competition. In 2015, the average corporate rate for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development was 25 percent, down from 48 percent in the early 1980s.

As if that were not enough competition for American companies, the U.S. government burdens them with another layer by taxing them on a worldwide basis. In that system, income from American companies is subject to U.S. taxes whether it’s earned in Seattle, Paris or Singapore. By contrast, most wealthy countries don’t tax foreign business income; about half of OECD nations have “territorial” systems that tax firms only on domestic income. In other words, U.S. exporters face a much less competitive tax system than most of their biggest competitors…

Not everyone would like to reduce taxes on corporations, but everyone should. The data show that most of the corporate tax burden is actually shifted to workers, who end up shouldering the tax in the form of lower wages. With the U.K. taking further measures to reduce its burden on corporations, boosting its workers’ wages and inflicting yet another blow to U.S. competitiveness, Congress should do what’s right by reforming the corporate tax. It may be the one bipartisan issue out there. All we need is leadership.

On the Road, Or Airways, Or Seas: Travelers Reveal Top Destinations

Heart Tail

The Consumer Travel Survey from the Travel Leaders Group always offers some interesting results. A few of the 2015 highlights from the recent responses of 3,300-plus American travelers:

  • Australia tops the “ultimate dream international destination” list for the fourth consecutive survey. Other top choices are Italy, Ireland, New Zealand and a Mediterranean cruise
  • 67% of vacationers will travel by land, 6% plan cruises and 27% are looking to do both
  • The top responses (multiple answers allowed) to how far people plan to travel are: Within the U.S. and farther than a bordering state, 71%; within home state, 43%; bordering state, 37%; Canada/Mexico/Caribbean, 31%; international, 24%
  • Interest in travel to Cuba: 39% say no way (down from 47.6% a year earlier), 35% will consider it and 23% are ready to go either now or when they believe Cuba is ready for Americans

Ranking the Best to Invest for 2011 Around the Globe

Site Selection magazine is well known for its tracking of business projects and rankings of economic activity. One of its newest projects (in its fourth year) is Best to Invest ratings. Half of the evaluation is based on its comprehensive database of new and expanded facilities, with the other 50% an analysis of business environment, business risks, foreign direct investment and infrastructure.

Here are top countries in five global regions. The metro rankings in these regions are based on similar factors as above, but with a slightly different weighting formula.

Western Europe

  • Top five countries: Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria and (tie) Switzerland and Italy. Top five metros: Dublin, Ireland; Frankfurt, Germany; Edinburgh, Scotland; Birmingham, England; and (tie) Belfast, Northern Ireland and Paris, France.

Eastern Europe

  • Countries: Hungary, Poland, Slovak Republic and (tie) Estonia and Czech Republic. Metros: Budapest, Hungary; Moscow, Russia; Bucharest, Romania; Prague, Czech Republic; and Warsaw, Poland.

Asia-Pacific

  • Countries: Singapore, Australia, (tie) Malaysia and South Korea, Vietnam. Metros (first three in China and last two in India): (tie) Beijing and Shanghai; (tie) Chongqing and Chennai; and Bangalore.

Africa and the Middle East

  • Countries: South Africa, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Metros: Port Elizabeth, South Africa; (tie) Nairobi, Kenya; Cairo, Egypt; and Kinsasha, Congo; and Casablanca, Morocco.

Latin America

  • Countries: Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile and Argentina. Metros: Sao Paulo, Brazil; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Mexico City, Mexico; (tie) Guadalajara, Mexico and Monterrey, Mexico.

 

Survey Says: Vacations!

You might have guessed that more Americans would be spending their tax refund money on paying down debts (like a mortgage or student loan) – one of the main pieces of financial advice during this year’s tax season.

But, it seems, according to a recent survey by Travel Leaders, that many Americans aren’t heeding that financial guidance. Instead, over half (57%) of survey respondents who are receiving a tax refund are planning to use at least part of the money for vacations and leisure travel this year.

Additionally, a majority (83%) of those surveyed indicated that they would spend the same or more on leisure travel this year than they did in 2010. Only 17% of respondents indicated they would spend less this year than they did in 2010.

In terms of where those polled want to spend that leisure time, Australia was chosen as the No. 1 “ultimate dream international destination.” Italy, Ireland, New Zealand and Mediterranean cruising followed respectively. The most traveled to (or anticipated to travel to) states include Florida, followed by California and New York.

Other findings include:

  • 89% of those polled noted that they have already or will take at least one leisure trip in 2011
  • Nearly 62% indicated they had already taken at least one trip in 2011; 22% have already taken multiple vacation trips
  • Almost 87% of respondents said they are planning to take the same amount, or more trips this year
  • Just over 75% of respondents plan to travel within the U.S. and further than a bordering state.

The group conducted the survey this year between March 10 and April 10 with responses from 953 U.S. consumers.

Thoughts of Old Ireland

On this glorious day, State Legislatures magazine offers some useful facts about the Ireland/USA connection. Here are a few:

  • 36.9 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry (more than 8 times the population of Ireland)
  • America produced 26.1 billion pounds of corned beef and 2.3. billion pounds of cabbage in 2009
  • There are 4 American towns named "Shamrock" — located in Indiana (woo hoo!); Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia
  • 9 states boast a town named "Dublin"
  • Other U.S. towns with Irish names include Emerald Isle, N.C.; Irishtown, Ill.; and Cloverleaf Township in Minnesota

Economic Freedom: Where We Rank

Everybody: "We’re number 9! We’re number 9!"

The Heritage Foundation released a list of the best and worst countries on the economic freedom scale. For more on the actual criteria, see the full post. But here are the top 10 lists:

Most Free

  1. Hong Kong (1st)
  2. Singapore (2nd)
  3. Australia (3rd)
  4. New Zealand (4th)
  5. Switzerland (5th)
  6. Canada (6th)
  7. Ireland (7th)
  8. Denmark (8th)
  9. United States (9th)
  10. Bahrain (10th)

Least Free

  1. Timor-Leste (170th)
  2. Iran (171st)
  3. D.R. of Congo (172nd)
  4. Libya (173rd)
  5. Burma (174th)
  6. Venezuela (175th)
  7. Eritrea (176th)
  8. Cuba (177th)
  9. Zimbabwe (178th)
  10. North Korea (179th)

Freedom Takes a Hit

The good news is that the United States ranks eighth out of 179 countries in the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. The bad news, according to John Stossel (via Reason Magazine), is that the U.S. ranks behind Canada and that policies (both past and current) are threatening that freedom even more.

For the past 16 years, the index has ranked the world’s countries on the basis of their economic freedom—or lack thereof. Ten criteria are used: freedoms related to business, trade, fiscal matters, monetary matters, investment, finance, labor, government spending, property rights, and freedom from corruption.

The top 10 countries are: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, Denmark, and Chile.

The bottom 10: Republic of Congo, Solomon Islands, Turkmenistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Venezuela, Burma, Eritrea, Cuba, Zimbabwe, and North Korea.

The index demonstrates what we libertarians have long said: Economic freedom leads to prosperity. Also, the best places to live and fastest-growing economies are among the freest, and vice versa. A society will be materially well off to the extent its people have the liberty to acquire property, start businesses, and trade in a secure legal and political environment.

Bill Beach, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis, which compiles the index with The Wall Street Journal, says the index defines "economic freedom" to mean: "You can follow your dreams, express yourself, create a business, do whatever job you want. Government doesn’t run labor markets, or plan what business you can open, or over-regulate you."

We asked Beech about the U.S. ranking. "For first time in 16 years, the United States fell from the ‘totally free’ to ‘mostly free’ group. That’s a terrible development," he said. He fears that if this continues, productive people will leave the United States for freer pastures.

"The United States has been this magnet for three centuries. But today money and people can move quickly, and in less than a lifetime a great country can go by the wayside."

Why is the United States falling behind? "Our spending has been excessive. … We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. (Government) takeovers of industries, subsidizing industries … these are the kinds of moves that happen in Third World countries. …"

Beach adds that the rule of law declined when the Obama administration declared some contracts to be null and void. For example, bondholders in the auto industry were forced to the back of the creditor line during bankruptcy. And there’s more regulation of business, such as the Dodd-Frank law for the financial industry and the new credit-card law. But how could the United States place behind Canada? Isn’t Canada practically a socialist country?

"Canada might do health care the wrong way," Beach said, "but by and large they do things the right way." Lately, Canada has lowered tax rates and reduced spending.

The Things We (Want to) Do

Travel Leaders recently released the results of a survey of over 600 folks, inquiring about their travel preferences. As we all like to fantasize about such things while at work, let us indulge you. Here are the results:

If you won a trip anywhere in the U.S., which would you choose? (614 responses) 
1.       Cruise – 33.1%
2.       Island Destination – 23.1%
3.       Beach Destination – 18.4%
4.       Resort Destination – 7.8%
5.       Major U.S. City – 6.2%         

  • Top “ideal U.S. island destination” was Maui, HI, followed by the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii (The Big Island), HI, respectively.
  • Top “ideal U.S. beach destination” was Hawaii, followed by Florida and then California.
  • Top “ideal U.S. city to visit” was New York City.
  • Top “ideal national park to visit” was Yellowstone. 
  • Top “ideal U.S. mountain destination” was Colorado.
  • Top “ideal U.S. golf destination” was a tie among Arizona, Hawaii and North Carolina.      

What is your dream international destination? (609 responses)
1. Australia                    
2. Italy                                     
3. (tie) Greece                          
3. (tie) Tahiti                            
5. Germany                              
6. (tie) Ireland                          
6. (tie) New Zealand                
8. Fiji                                
9. (tie) Egypt                            
9. (tie) France  

I doubt I’m alone in thinking the fact that Branson isn’t mentioned once on this survey is a rather stark indictment of society.