Travelers head to exotic hot spots such as Cuba and Croatia

What do travelers really want? If you ask Virtuoso agents, they may be able to tell you a story you did not expect to hear.  The results from the 2016 Virtuoso Luxe Report indicates the five must-have experiences of 2016 have more to do with what’s going on inside perhaps than what’s going on in the surrounding place.

Travelers want to:

Discover untouched, unique places. Exploring new destinations is this year’s chief travel motivator. Cuba is the top emerging destination, with Bhutan and Myanmar also ranking high on advisors’ lists.

Create unforgettable memories. Whether it is a multigenerational safari in Africa, as traveling with extended family is this year’s top trend, or celebrating a milestone (also a top-five trend) with a food and wine tour of Italy, travelers will return with memories that outlive the actual experience.

Cross something off your bucket list and do not wait any longer for that trip of a lifetime. Perhaps it is seeing Machu Picchu or staying in an overwater bungalow in French Polynesia – either way, now is the time to go.

Push the boundaries of your comfort zone. Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef or take an expedition cruise to Antarctica. This is the year to transcend limits, with adventure travel a key trend in 2016.

Enjoy closer-to-home experiences. This year’s top U.S. destination, New York, appeals to a diverse range of travelers year-round. And Mexico appears on no less than three Luxe Report top-five lists, proving it is compelling for couples and families alike.

The survey of Virtuoso’s network of elite travel advisors offers a list of emerging destinations upscale travelers are seeking in quests to find something off the beaten path on their journeys in 2016. Cuba was the dominant choice, likely the result of warming relations between the U.S. and the island nation. Next were Iceland, Croatia and Myanmar. New to the top five is Antarctica, proving the allure of a remote destination for luxury travelers.

Italy topped the family destination list, followed by Mexico, Hawaii, Orlando and England. Virtuoso travel advisors say that families are seeking active and authentic travel experiences, and they are also heading to unconventional destinations. Families are enjoying everything from surfing in Sri Lanka to language lessons in Costa Rica to heli-skiing and ice fishing in northern Canada.

Adventure travelers are off to South Africa in 2016, naming it the top destination for active travel, followed by Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand and Peru. They are searching for one-of-a-kind experiences, as Virtuoso’s experts reveal. Advisors report requests as diverse as gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda, mountain climbing in Iceland, and swimming with whale sharks in Mexico and pigs in the Bahamas.

virtuoso predicts rise of Croatia

Key findings from the 2016 Virtuoso Luxe Report:

Top Travel Trends  Top Emerging Destinations
1. Multigenerational travel 1. Cuba
2. River cruising 2. Iceland
3. Active or adventure trips 3. Croatia
4. Luxury cruises 4. Myanmar
5. Celebration travel 5. Antarctica
Top Global Destinations  Top U.S. Destinations
1. Italy 1. New York, NY
2. France 2. Maui, HI
3. South Africa 3. Napa Valley/Sonoma, CA
4. Mexico 4. Las Vegas, NV
5. Australia 5. Miami/South Beach, FL
Top Adventure Destinations  Top Honeymoon Destinations
1. South Africa 1. Italy
2. Costa Rica 2. Maui, HI
3. Galapagos Islands 3. French Polynesia
4. New Zealand 4. Maldives
5. Peru 5. Mexico
Top Family Travel Destinations  Top Travel Motivations
1. Italy 1. Exploring new destinations
2. Mexico 2. Seeking authentic experiences
3. Hawaii 3. Rest and relaxation
4. Orlando, FL 4. Personal enrichment
5. England 5. Spending time or reconnecting with loved ones


Less traditional destinations noted show that travelers are exploring new territory. Families are venturing to Mongolia, and Iran is drawing interest from intrepid travelers in search of something novel.

Advisors from Virtuoso’s travel agency members in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Europe participated in the survey, ensuring a global perspective on 2016’s top trends.


Related Stories: 

What’s Driving Travel Bucket Lists for 2015?

Per Chance to Dream: Virtuoso Polls Travel Dreams


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