St. Augustine has added another top-10 award to a lengthening travel resume. TripAdvisor named the city to its “Top 15 U.S. Destinations on the Rise” for 2012.  St. Augustine was No. 9 on a list that includes two other Florida destinations as well as Austin and Branson, Mo. Nashville was No. 1.

“St. Augustine is among the nation’s hot spots which have clearly piqued travelers’ interest over the last year,” TripAdvisor spokeswoman Julie Cassetina said. “We’ve seen a substantial increase in year-on-year volume of TripAdvisor reviews being written about the city and tourist businesses within it.

Tourism officials believe the nomination could boost the number of people who visit. “TripAdvisor is powerful because people look for other people’s opinions,” said Tourist Development Council Executive Director Glenn Hastings. “Certainly, there are people who may be looking at a variety of destinations, and I think (this list) will place it in their mind to give (the city) a look.”

TripAdvisor is a travel site that ranks places, lodgings and attractions using data and reviews from people who have experienced them. The site features more than 60 million reviews and opinions from travelers around the world, covering more than 93,000 destinations, 520,000 hotels, 155,000 attractions, 715,000 restaurants and more, Cassetina said.

TripAdvisor chose its winners based on an increase in traveler reviews, which the site says indicates those destinations are “hot spots piquing vacationers’ interest.” Hastings said the award was good because “it’s coming from people … not from magazine editors or anything like that.” It’s the second nod in as many months for the city, which National Geographic named in December as among the top 10 best places in the world to see holiday lights. Hastings said the city has been tops in many other lists, as have area destinations.

“TPC Sawgrass was on a top 10 golf course list for Golf Magazine and quite a few others,” Hastings said. “Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is getting a lot of attention from reader surveys and what have you.”  Jay Humphries, director of communications for the St. Johns County Visitors & Convention Bureau, agreed.  “We’ve been on so many lists,” Humphries said.

He said the city at times has been named the most dog-friendly, the most walkable, the most economical, the most like Europe. “We won a bunch of awards last year,” Humphries said. “We were on AAA’s top 10 places for holiday cheer. Individual resorts and hotels won a lot of things last year.”  Humphries said The Miami Herald named the city one of seven Florida wonders a couple of years ago.

And in 2009, U.S. News & World Report named the city one of the top best places to live in the United States. “And now, one of the 15 up-and-coming destinations for 2012,” Humphries said. “So we’re on a roll here.”

On the list:

1. Nashville

2. Austin, Texas

3. Fort Myers, Fla.

4. Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

5. Pensacola, Fla.

6. Louisville, Ky.

7. Branson, Mo.

8. Scottsdale, Ariz.

9. St. Augustine, Fla.

10. Charleston, S.C.

11. Albuquerque, N.M.

12. Wildwood, N.J.

13. Asheville, N.C.

14. Park City, Utah

15. Santa Cruz, Calif.

Source: TripAdvisor

Irene Arriola Real Estate, Inc.
81 King Street, Suite B Saint Augustine, FL 32084
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