Virtuoso has revealed the top destinations for 2013 as determined by the group’s annual Virtuoso Luxe Report. Based on input received from a survey of its travel advisors, the report provides insight on where, when and how travelers will go next – whether on land or afloat – be it couples, families and adventure-seekers, alike.
With the debut of Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile to the “most popular emerging destinations” list, findings indicate that Virtuoso’s clients are eager to venture into new territory, no matter how far-flung or remote. In these instances, the opportunity to explore lesser developed destinations to gain a richer experience outweighs the desire for more traditional “luxury.” Meanwhile, Cuba and Vietnam maintained their respective places among the top five emerging locations in the world, garnering attention from travelers in the know.
As baby boomers continue to drive travel sales, and the desire to spend time with loved ones prominently factoring into decisions, it is no surprise that the top and recurring trend for the upcoming year is multigenerational family travel. Ocean cruising is predicted to have renewed strength in 2013, with the Baltic Region making a new appearance on the list aside perennial favorites like Alaska, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. River cruising continues its strong growth trajectory, especially on the European waterways, and the addition of new routes throughout Asia will only bolster its popularity in the coming year.
Italy continues its reign as the top destination for international travel in 2013, followed by South Africa, France and Australia. This year Latin America emerges with Argentina making a first-time appearance on the list.
The biggest change from 2012 to 2013 is within the U.S. travel market. Napa Valley/Sonoma claim the top spot as the most sought after U.S. destination, bumping both Maui and New York from their touted positions. While Las Vegas remains on the list, the city now shares an unlikely fourth place juxtaposed with the state of Alaska.
For families traveling in 2013, Italy will remain the chart-topper, with adventurous Costa Rica moving up in popularity to join England. New to the list this year is Mexico, breaking through to capture fourth place in the ranks of family travel. France, the Galapagos Islands and Turks & Caicos all tie for fifth place.
The most popular destinations for romantic travel continue to be Italy, French Polynesia, France, and Bali. This year Fiji joins the list of exotic locations, reconfirming that romance knows no boundaries.
As in past reports, the motivation behind high-end travel continues to be: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; rest and relaxation; personal enrichment; seeking adventure; and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones – again, supporting the emerging destinations as well as emphasizing multigenerational travel as one of the biggest trends for 2013.
“This year’s Luxe Report has unveiled fascinating first-timers to the list. Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile are destinations growing in appeal to the savvy traveler and our 2013 report reflects this passion for exploring something new,” says Virtuoso Chairman and CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch, CTC. “The multi-faceted Virtuoso traveler wants to reconnect with loved ones, explore new destinations, and seek out opportunities for personal growth. These are all areas where collaborating with a Virtuoso travel advisor is essential, as their goal is to help travelers realize these dreams.”
The 2013 Luxe Report also predicts there will be a rise in longer trips (eight days and longer) to international destinations and suggests that when necessary, travelers are willing to book lower room categories in order to stay in nicer hotels. Travel advisors still continue to be the lead influencer in determining their clients’ travel decisions, followed closely by input from friends and family, which shows that crowd-sourcing will continue to factor into the travel planning process. Meanwhile, Business Class is still the preferred way to fly, with Economy Plus gaining popularity as more airlines introduce and expand this on-board product.
The five most popular emerging destinations, meaning those on the cusp of becoming popular for the first time or all over again, in 2013:
The five biggest travel trends for 2013:
1. Multi-generational family travel
2. River cruises
3. Luxury cruises
4. Active or adventure trips
5. Celebration travel
The five most popular international destinations in 2013:
2. South Africa
The top five U.S. destinations in 2013:
1. Napa Valley / Sonoma
3. New York City
4. Alaska; Las Vegas (tied)
5. Hawaii’s Big Island
The top five most popular destinations for families in 2013:
2. England; Costa Rica (tied)
5. France; Galapagos Islands; Turks & Caicos (tied)
The five most popular cruise itineraries for 2013:
3. European River
5. Baltic Region
The five most popular destinations for romantic getaways in 2013:
2. French Polynesia
The five most popular adventure destinations in 2013:
1. South Africa
2. New Zealand (moved up & switched with CR)
3. Galapagos Islands
4. Costa Rica
The top reasons people will travel in 2013:
1. Exploring new destinations
2. Seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; Rest & Relaxation (tied)
3. Spending time with or reconnecting with loved ones
4. Personal enrichment (e.g. voluntourism, cultural experience, learning, etc)
5. Seeking adventure
A total of 350 travel advisors from Virtuoso member travel agencies in the United State and Canada provided survey responses in October 2012.