This is not the first time that Amazon has dabbled in the travel arena, however – previously, Amazon Local offered customers flash deals and other deep discounts on hotel stays in the range of 40%-60% off. But with Amazon Destinations, Amazon has increased the selection of its hotels, which are handpicked by the company for inclusion on the site. It has done this by moving away from the earlier discount model, and is now posting hotels’ published rates instead. This gives Amazon the opportunity to work with more hotels on an ongoing basis, explains Skift, which was first to note the new site’s launch. The hotels listed today on Amazon Destinations include those found in popular travel and tourist spots, like the Adirondacks, Catskills, Hamptons, or Jersey Shore in the NYC metro area, for example; or the Cascades, Portland, Puget Sound, Washington Coast and more in the Pacific Northwest; as well as other Southern California hotspots like Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Central Coast and the Southern California mountains, among others. Amazon explains that the goal of the new site is to help travelers easily plan and book local trips. “More than 40% of all U.S. domestic leisure trips are short-term getaways of 1-3 nights, and many of these trips are to nearby, drivable destinations,” spokesperson Tom Cook says. “However, travelers often have a hard time planning local getaways. It’s difficult to know where to go, the process is labor-intensive, and people often miss out on finding great places to stay.” Get the full story at TechCrunch