Many travelers to boost vacation spending in 2013

Despite a still uncertain economy in the U.S. and abroad, many travelers worldwide are planning to spend more on their vacations this year than last year, with Chinese vacationers expected to be the biggest spenders of all.

Of the 5,000 travelers surveyed around the world, 70% said they plan to spend the same or more on vacation travel in 2013 than last year, according to a report commissioned by Wyndham Hotel Group, the world’s largest hotel company.

In countries with burgeoning economies, more travelers are planning to surpass last year’s travel budget.

In China, for example, 58% of travelers surveyed said they planned to spend more this year.

When they hit the road, travelers from around the world have different spending priorities.

The survey found that U.S. and Chinese travelers plan to use the extra money they spend this year to take longer vacations. Travelers from Britain said dining was a top priority for their vacation, while Brazilian vacationers put shopping at the top of their lists.

And it seems theme parks are a universal pleasure: The survey found that 43% of all travelers said the vacation they aspire to take includes a visit to a theme park.

L.A. area high on small-business travelers’ lists

The Los Angeles metropolitan area — including surrounding cities such as Long Beach, Santa Monica and Pasadena — was the third-most popular destination in the country for small-business travelers last year.

But it is not the place for travel on a tight budget, according to a report by Concur Technologies Inc., an expense-management company in Redmond, Wash. The report compared thousands of business travel receipts from companies with less than 100 employees.

When visiting L.A. on business, it’s a bit more thrifty to stay outside the metropolitan area if possible. Concur officials found that small-business travelers save about $25 a day by renting a car, booking a hotel room and dining outside of area.

Also from the report: New York and Chicago were the most popular and most expensive cities in the U.S. for employees of small businesses to visit.

In New York, small-business travelers spent an average of $235.26 for lodging, $36.01 per meal and $64.31 for daily car rental. In Chicago, such travelers spent an average of $200.26 on lodging, $29.40 per meal and $58.05 for car rentals.

British Airways’ checks rile privacy advocates

A British Airways effort to improve customer service by letting airline employees look up passenger photos and other information on the Internet is ruffling feathers among privacy advocates.

Over the last year, British Airways equipped airline employees with Apple Inc. iPad tablets to search data on passengers such as previous travel arrangements, food preferences and even Google images. The airline says the Know Me program was directed primarily to better serve VIP passengers.

The online images, for example, were used to help crew members recognize passengers as they board the planes, making the service more personal, according to British Airways officials.

“We’re essentially trying to re-create the feeling of recognition you get in a favorite restaurant when you’re welcomed there, but in our case it will be delivered by thousands of staff to millions of customers,” Joe Boswell, a spokesman for British Airways, told a London newspaper.

Privacy advocates weren’t buying it.

“Since when has buying a flight ticket meant giving your airline permission to start hunting for information about you on the Internet?” asked Nick Pickles, director of the London privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch.

No word yet on whether British Airways plans to modify the program to address the privacy concerns.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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