The results of Virtuoso’s 2014 Luxe Report are in and not surprisingly, the established international network of luxury travel agencies has found “Multigenerational Family Travel” and “Active and Adventure Travel” to be the two most preferred travel experiences.
The trend-predicting report found that all travelers in 2014 – families, couples, honeymooners, retirees – were looking at travel within these two genres, especially in more exotic destinations. The biggest change in the findings from the 2013 to 2014 report could be found in “emerging destinations.” While Cuba remains the tourism destination most on the rise, the Galapagos Islands’ popularity is escalating, and Iceland and Belize once again cracked the “top 10.” Peru trumped Australia this year and made it into the list of top five adventure travel destinations.
Italy continues its reign as the top destination for international travel in 2014, followed by South Africa, France and Australia. This year New Zealand makes an appearance on the list as well. Italy remained the chart-topper for families traveling in 2014, with England, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Mexico rounding out the list.
Within the U.S. travel market, New York reclaims the top spot, followed by Maui. Napa Valley/Sonoma was bumped to third place from a first place ranking in 2013. Las Vegas took fourth place and for the first time, Hawaii’s Big Island joins the list.
Behind the interest in high-end travel is a continued search for “authentic experiences” in moments of rest and relaxation and spending time reconnecting with loved ones.
The most popular honeymoon destinations this year: Italy, French Polynesia, Maui, the Maldives and St. Lucia topped the list. Not surprisingly, the list mirrored the most popular destinations for romantic travel, which continue to be Italy, French Polynesia, Bali and France. This year the Maldives joined the list of exotic locations. With the Maldives displacing Fiji from the top five, these romantic locales are further away than perennial honeymoon favorites such as Hawaii and the Caribbean.
The report also found that the rise in longer trips (eight days and longer) to international destinations held steady from 2013, 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 by recommendations from friends and family. Business Class is still the preferred way to fly, with Economy Plus continuing to gain popularity as more airlines introduce and expand this on-board product.
Key findings from the 2014 Virtuoso Luxe Report:
The 10 most popular emerging destinations
4. Galapagos Island
The five biggest travel trends for 2014
1. Multigenerational family travel
2. River cruising
3. Active or adventure trips
4. Celebration travel
5. Luxury cruises
The five most popular international destinations in 2014
2. South Africa
5. New Zealand
The top five U.S. destinations for 2014
1. New York City
3. Napa Valley / Sonoma
4. Las Vegas
5. Hawaii’s Big Island
The top five most popular destinations for families in 2014
4. Costa Rica
The five most popular cruise itineraries for 2014
3. European River
5. Baltic Region
The five most popular destinations for honeymoons in 2014
2. French Polynesia
5. St. Lucia
The five most popular destinations for romantic getaways in 2014
2. French Polynesia
The five most popular adventure destinations in 2014
1. South Africa
2. New Zealand
3. Galapagos Islands
4. Costa Rica
The top reasons people will travel in 2014
1. Exploring new destinations
2. Rest and relaxation
3. Seeking authentic experiences in new destinations
4. Re-discovering previously visited destinations
5. Personal enrichment
A total of 520 travel advisors from Virtuoso member travel agencies in the United States and Canada provided survey responses in October 2013.