Virtuoso Names 10 Hottest Destinations



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Harnessing data from its worldwide travel agency members, Virtuoso revealed where the affluent will be venturing for the remainder of 2014, including the crucial holiday time and winter months.

Virtuoso shared the top destinations for travel overall as well as those spots that are seeing the fastest growth, while also sharing insight on how and why consumers are making travel decisions. The results – a surge in demand for Down Under, some surprises in Central Europe and the next evolution in family travel – global citizenship.

Virtuoso Chairman and CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch, shared insights on the buying habits and motivations of upscale travelers. He noted that the same consumer is buying travel in two polar opposite ways: planning upwards of a year in advance for certain trips while also booking close-in, impulse trips to round out their travels. Several factors are driving the high demand, most notably the massive rise in tourism with more than one billion people now crossing international borders as tourists, the rise in affluence throughout the world and, of course, the 78 million Baby Boomers who are now traveling.

These factors also have led to an evolution in family and multigenerational travel that Virtuoso has identified. While the trend line for more than a decade has shown that consumers want to travel to connect with their love ones, using travel to supplement traditional education for children is a new philosophy Virtuoso has termed the “Journey to Global Citizenship.” The desire to connect and build lasting memories as a family still holds true; however, Upchurch says parents and even grandparents are looking at travel as a means of giving the next generation a leg up in the world.

“One of the smartest things you can do, if you have the means, is take your kids to China or India or Brazil,” says Upchurch. “These countries will influence much of the business being done now and in the future, and kids who have insight into these cultures, who learn to adapt in unfamiliar surroundings early on, and who gain an understanding of the world around them, will have a certain advantage when it’s time to enter the workforce.”

Upchurch also shared how travelers are approaching many of these destinations. For the tried and true places, people are looking to experience them in a new way, visiting lesser known sites, absorbing more of the local culture, looking for anything not found in a guide book and, probably most telling, seeking a certain ‘feeling’ rather than basing destination choices on what to see and do. His other observation is that travelers are on a hunt to “collect countries.”

“There is a race towards trying to get to some of the more pristine places because of the rise in mass tourism and globalization. The opening up of some of the new, non-traditional destinations that we’ve identified, offer even more incentive for travelers to explore.”

The Virtuoso “Top 10”
1. Italy (6%)
2. United Kingdom (30%)
3. France (23%)
4. Canada (9%)
5. Spain (20%)
6. Germany (31%)
7. Mexico (17%)
8. South Africa (- 5%)
9. Netherlands (18%)
10. Greece (57%)

Perhaps more enlightening, though, are the countries seeing the largest year-over-year growth.

Virtuoso’s “Hot List”
1. New Zealand (196%)
2. Chile (103%)
3. Indonesia (103%)
4. Hungary (86%)
5. Hong Kong (72%)
6. Croatia (68%)
7. Australia (58%)
8. Ecuador (57%)
9. Greece (57%)
10. Norway (54%)

Virtuoso counts 340 agencies with more than 620 locations throughout North and South America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand amongst its membership.

Virtuoso, www.virtuoso.com