NEW YORK, Dec. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Virtuoso®, the global luxury travel network renowned for creating exceptional travel experiences, is revealing the top destinations for 2013 as determined by the group's annual Virtuoso Luxe Report. Based on input received from a survey of the world's best travel advisors, the report provides insight on where, when and how travelers will go next – whether on land or afloat – be it couples, families and adventure-seekers, alike.
With the debut of Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile to the "most popular emerging destinations" list, findings indicate that Virtuoso's clients are eager to venture into new territory, no matter how far-flung or remote. In these instances, the opportunity to explore lesser developed destinations to gain a richer experience outweighs the desire for more traditional "luxury." Meanwhile, Cuba and Vietnam maintained their respective places among the top five emerging locations in the world, garnering attention from travelers in the know.
As baby boomers continue to drive travel sales, and the desire to spend time with loved ones prominently factoring into decisions, it is no surprise that the top and recurring trend for the upcoming year is multigenerational family travel. Ocean cruising is predicted to have renewed strength in 2013, with the Baltic Region making a new appearance on the list aside perennial favorites like Alaska, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. River cruising continues its strong growth trajectory, especially on the European waterways, and the addition of new routes throughout Asia will only bolster its popularity in the coming year.
Italy continues its reign as the top destination for international travel in 2013, followed by South Africa, France and Australia. This year Latin America emerges with Argentina making a first-time appearance on the list.
The biggest change from 2012 to 2013 is within the U.S. travel market. Napa Valley/Sonoma claim the top spot as the most sought after U.S. destination, bumping both Maui and New York from their touted positions. While Las Vegas remains on the list, the city now shares an unlikely fourth place juxtaposed with the state of Alaska.
For families traveling in 2013, Italy will remain the chart-topper, with adventurous Costa Rica moving up in popularity to join England. New to the list this year is Mexico, breaking through to capture fourth place in the ranks of family travel. France, the Galapagos Islands and Turks & Caicos all tie for fifth place.
The most popular destinations for romantic travel continue to be Italy, French Polynesia, France, and Bali. This year Fiji joins the list of exotic locations, reconfirming that romance knows no boundaries.
As in past reports, the motivation behind high-end travel continues to be: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; rest and relaxation; personal enrichment; seeking adventure; and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones – again, supporting the emerging destinations as well as emphasizing multigenerational travel as one of the biggest trends for 2013.
"This year's Luxe Report has unveiled fascinating first-timers to the list. Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile are destinations growing in appeal to the savvy traveler and our 2013 report reflects this passion for exploring something new," says Virtuoso Chairman and CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch, CTC. "The multi-faceted Virtuoso traveler wants to reconnect with loved ones, explore new destinations, and seek out opportunities for personal growth. These are all areas where collaborating with a Virtuoso travel advisor is essential, as their goal is to help travelers realize these dreams."
The 2013 Luxe Report also predicts there will be a rise in longer trips (eight days and longer) to international destinations 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 closely by input from friends and family, which shows that crowd-sourcing will continue to factor into the travel planning process. Meanwhile, Business Class is still the preferred way to fly, with Economy Plus gaining popularity as more airlines introduce and expand this on-board product.
Key findings from the 2013 Virtuoso Luxe Report follow.
The five most popular emerging destinations, meaning those on the cusp of becoming popular for the first time or all over again, in 2013:
Why it's significant: Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile are all first-timers on the list.
The five biggest travel trends for 2013:
- Multi-generational family travel
- River cruises
- Luxury cruises
- Active or adventure trips
- Celebration travel
Why it's significant: Multi-generational means fun for the WHOLE family. And, a rising tide floats all boats ... ocean cruising will have renewed strength, while river cruising continues to attract travelers of all ages.
The five most popular international destinations in 2013:
- South Africa
Why it's significant: Argentina makes a first-time appearance, while England falls from fifth to ninth place.
The top five U.S. destinations in 2013:
- Napa Valley / Sonoma
- New York City
- Alaska; Las Vegas (tied)
- Hawaii's Big Island
Why it's significant: Napa/Sonoma nabs the top spot from Maui for the first time, while Alaska makes the list tied for third with Las Vegas (its opposite in every way).
The top five most popular destinations for families in 2013:
- England; Costa Rica (tied)
- France; Galapagos Islands; Turks & Caicos (tied)
Why it's significant: Costa Rica increases in popularity to tie with England, while Mexico cracks the top five.
The five most popular cruise itineraries for 2013:
- European River
- Baltic Region
Why it's significant: The Baltic Region replaces the Greek Isles on the list.
The five most popular destinations for romantic getaways in 2013:
- French Polynesia
Why it's significant: Fiji proves more popular than the Seychelles, which slipped to seventh place.
The five most popular adventure destinations in 2013:
- South Africa
- New Zealand (moved up & switched with CR)
- Galapagos Islands
- Costa Rica
Why it's significant: New Zealand moves up to steal second place from Costa Rica.
The top reasons people will travel in 2013:
- Exploring new destinations
- Seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; Rest & Relaxation (tied)
- Spending time with or reconnecting with loved ones
- Personal enrichment (e.g. voluntourism, cultural experience, learning, etc)
- Seeking adventure
A total of 350 travel advisors from Virtuoso member travel agencies in the United State and Canada provided survey responses in October 2012. For more information, go to www.virtuoso.com.