New York bounces back as top destination spot to celebrate; Las Vegas close behind |

New York bounces back as top destination spot to celebrate; Las Vegas close behind

Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. – Three years after the Sept. 11 attacks, partygoers are making Times Square in New York City the top destination spot to ring in the new year, according to a survey of hotel reservations.

The city’s midtown west neighborhood, home to Times Square, is the No. 1 destination for Americans on New Year’s Eve, with the Las Vegas Strip following close behind.

New York, however, dominates the rankings, making up 60 percent of the top 10 destinations selected by customers.

The list is based on more than 30,000 hotel bookings and reservation requests made on the travel company’s Web site between Jan. 1 and Dec. 7, 2004 for the night of New Year’s Eve.

“The big cities are back. As far as New Year’s is concerned, the traditional, popular spots are back,” said Brian Ek, a spokesman for Norwalk-based Priceline.

Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the city took a major tourism hit and lost many of its regular New Year’s Eve visitors. For New Year’s Eve 2001, only a few months after the attacks, New York City held just two spots in the Top 10 list, with Times Square coming a distant third to two Las Vegas strip areas.

Last year, U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., had urged revelers not to attend any New Year’s Eve parties at Times Square for fear of terrorism attacks. Shays said he had concerns based on information that New York was one of five potential targets for a terrorist attack. At the time, the terror alert had been raised to code orange, or heightened.

But this year, Shays, a member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, said he doesn’t know of any possible threats to Times Square.

“I mean, it’s always going to be a potential target. That’s the reality that exists for New York, but we have no special information,” Shays said.

This year is the 100th anniversary of Times Square festivities. About 750,000 people are expected to fill Times Square on Dec. 31 to watch the ball drop at 11:59 p.m.

Other popular destinations for Priceline customers include Florida hot spots, like South Beach in Miami and Orlando’s Walt Disney World, while others are choosing to travel to Chicago and New Orleans.

According to Active Hotels, an Internet hotel reservation service in Europe, the top destination for European travelers is London, followed by Paris, Barcelona and then Madrid.