New York is the Apple of Our Eye

LONDON, February 12/PRNewswire/ —

- Big Apple Remains UK’s Favourite Valentine’s Destination but Eastern European Cities Challenge For Our Hearts

It seems that the thrill of popping the question at the top of the Empire State Building or taking a romantic stroll in Central Park has made New York the ultimate destination for a passionate Valentine’s break, a study conducted by leading book retailer Waterstone’s reveals.

The study, which looks at sales of travel guides to popular Valentine’s destinations, shows that the Big Apple has established itself as our favourite city for a romantic break and that the September 11th attacks didn’t deter lovebirds for long, with New York rising back up the charts in 2003 to knock London off the top spot and the US city has remained in first place ever since.

Romance will be in the air in Rome too this year, where a rapid increase in sales of travel guides to the city have propelled the ancient Italian capital from 8th most popular Valentine’s destination in 2000 to second place in couples hearts in 2006.

Whilst traditional romantic favourites such as Paris, London and New York remain popular with lovers, this Valentine’s Day the study reveals that more and more couples are set to canoodle in increasingly exotic and adventurous locations: getting amorous in Marrakech, blissed out in Budapest, and tempestuous in Tallinn.

Krakow, the Polish setting for the Oscar-winning film “Schindler’s List” is another of a number of more unusual romantic city break destinations that the study reveals are proving increasingly popular with amorous couples in 2006.

Dubai and Berlin have also quickly established themselves as popular Valentine’s city break destinations. Both entered the Top 10 for the first time in 2004, where they have remained ever since. The sales data reveals that the new found popularity of these two cities could be at the expense of Dublin and Madrid, both Top 10 regulars between 2000 and 2003, they have since dropped out of the Top 25 completely.

Alister Babb, Travel Books Range Buyer for Waterstone’s says:

“To get a picture of how our customers tastes have changed when planning a Valentine’s break, we analysed Waterstone’s January to February sales of city break travel guides, looking at sales every year from 2000 to 2006. The sales data revealed that whilst many of us still like to whisper sweet nothings in traditional romantic settings such as along the banks of the river Seine, we are also experimenting with many new destinations such as Tallinn and Krakow.”

The study reveals that many cities in Eastern Europe are proving increasingly popular with romantic couples. Hungarian capital Budapest first entered the Top 25 city destinations in 2004 in 21st place, and is now the 8th most popular city destination with Waterstone’s customers in 2006. Krakow was hot on Budapest’s heels, entering the top 25 in 2005 in 19th place, now up to 13th in 2006. Estonian capital Tallinn is this year’s hot new Eastern European city, making a promising debut in the Top 25 in 22nd place, whilst Russia’s St Petersburg is currently in 20th position.

Publisher Andy Riddle, joint MD of travel guide specialist Footprint, says

“Increasing numbers of travellers are choosing more adventurous, unusual places to take their lover for Valentine’s Day. Visiting East European gems like St Petersburg, Tallinn and the up-and-coming Slovenian capital Ljubljana provides an experience of new cultures and attractions without too much fear of having to jostle with other love-struck couples for a good table in your restaurant of choice. These cities provide an alternative to the main stream, obvious romantic destinations, offering memorable experiences and value for money.”

Although some of us are increasingly looking East or Middle East to celebrate our love, the study also reveals that many of us remain old-fashioned when it comes to romance. New York, London, Paris, Prague, Barcelona, Rome and Venice, are perennial favourites with Waterstone’s customers and sales of guide books to each of these cities have gained them all Top 10 places every year since 2000.

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