The 2012 Virtuoso Luxe Report reveals good news for travel consultants and a continued interest in international travel for upscale travelers. The report shows that despite rising fuel prices and hotel costs, luxury travelers continue to book travel in an effort to seek authentic experiences in new destinations, rest and relaxation, and personal enrichment. Italy and France ranked as two of the most popular international destinations, with England also joining the top five for the first time. Virtuoso's clientele also showed an interest in exploring less-traveled locations, with Cuba topping the polls as most popular emerging destination for the first time ever. Cambodia and Belize also ranked in this category. International travel remains most popular in 2012, and high-end river cruises ranked as the second of five biggest emerging travel trends, with family and multi-generational taking first in this category.
Maui tops the list of U.S. Destinations, with South Beach, Miami coming in at number five. New York City, Napa Valley & Sonoma, and Las Vegas also ranked in the top five. For family travel, Italy and England were joined for the first time by Turks & Caicos and South Africa as most popular destinations, along with Hawaii and Costa Rica. Italy, French Polynesia, and France remain among most popular romantic destinations, joined this year by Bali and Seychelles.
The Luxe Report also confirms that high-end travelers continue to value a professional travel advisor's advice on the right destination, the offer of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and value for money paid. The report found that the largest influences for consumers' travel decisions are recommendations from friends and family combined with travel consultants' advice.
Virtuoso is an invitation-only luxury travel network where 330 agencies with over 7,200 elite travel specialists in 20 countries, and over 1,250 of the world's best travel providers, come together to generate over $9.6 billion anually in travel sales. Advisors from Virtuoso member travel agencies took part in the survey in December 2011 and January 2012. A full version of the survey can be found here: http://www.virtuoso.com/thecompany/luxereport2012/.