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Upscale travelers are seeking exotic destinations as they escape winter’s hold on North America and transition into Spring, according to Virtuoso, Global luxury travel network. While some perennial warm-weather favorites remain popular, Virtuoso’s proprietary data also reveals a yearning to explore far and wide as it compares destinations with the most year-over-year appeal.



The Virtuoso Top 10:

The most popular destinations for vacation so far this year

1.      Mexico

2.      Canada

3.      Australia

4.      New Zealand

5.      United Kingdom

6.      South Africa

7.      Argentina

8.      India

9.      Chile

10.  China

The Top 10 analysis: Global travel is up overall, and travelers are flocking to a mix of eternally fashionable places and more unusual choices. Mexico and Canada finish first and second, their strength not surprising due to their proximity to the United States. Southern destinations dominate the Top 10 as usual for winter in the Northern Hemisphere, with one notable European exception being the U.K. Australia and New Zealand are experiencing solid growth, especially for two already popular luxury destinations. Upscale travelers, always searching for novel destinations, are finding them in Asia and South America. India in particular is surging, and Argentina and Chile continue to beckon wealthy travelers with their mix of food, wine, diverse landscapes and history. It’s also worth noting that half these destinations are English-speaking, making them more comfortable for U.S travelers.


The Virtuoso Hot 10:

These countries have seen the most significant growth in year-on-year bookings for the first quarter.

1.      Panama (+107%)

2.      Thailand (+92%)

3.      Switzerland (+56%)

4.      South Africa (+50%)

5.      Kenya (+47%)

6.      India (+46%)

7.      Jamaica (+44%)

8.      Vietnam (+43%)

9.      Colombia (+39%)

10.  Spain (+34%)  

The Hot 10 analysis:  Bookings to Africa are booming; this analysis revealed that luxury travel there has grown more than any other continent. The noteworthy upward movement for both South Africa and Kenya contributed to the continent’s 29 percent boost year over year. While warm-weather locales elsewhere are also well represented, they are not traditional sun-and-sand spots. Select destinations in Asia and Latin America are trending strongly. Developing countries such as Vietnam and Colombia appear on the list, indicating the significant appetite for culture, cuisine and fresh frontiers.

Data is sourced from Virtuoso’s United States and Canadian-based travel agency members.