Archive for the ‘international travel’ Category

US, Italy, France Among Top 10 Spring Break Destinations; Switzerland, Greece, Morocco Showing Biggest Increase in Bookings

February 23, 2019
Greece

Meteora, Greece. Travel to Greece is on the upswing. © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

NEW YORK – The global luxury travel network Virtuoso® is revealing the around-the-world locations where upscale travelers plan to spend their spring breaks this year, including destinations showing renewed strength following down periods. A leading trend forecaster, Virtuoso has examined its $49.5 billion in transactions to showcase the top destinations for March and April. With holidays occurring deeper into April this year, the prolonged spring travel period will allow visitors to enjoy warmer temps in many of these must-have destinations. 

The Virtuoso Top 10:

The most popular destinations for spring travel based on future bookings.

  1. United States                                                   6. Israel
  2. Italy                                                                 7. Japan
  3. France                                                             8. Australia
  4. United Kingdom                                              9. Spain
  5. New Zealand                                                   10. China

 The Top 10 analysis: Americans are staying closer to home this spring, seeking the sun in cities such as Los Angeles, Miami and Orlando. Eternally desirable Europe holds four spots on the list; Italy and France exhibit year-round popularity. U.S. travelers are benefiting from a favorable exchange rate against the euro and pound, and spring’s shoulder season is ideal for enjoying the continent minus the summer crowds. New Zealand and Australia beckon families this time of year with their pleasant temperatures and abundance of active experiences. As the birthplace of major world religions, Israel holds great appeal as an educational family destination, with spring a peak season due to Easter and Passover celebrations. Travelers wanting to see Japan’s famed cherry blossoms are heading there in increasing numbers, as the country is also the top emerging destination of 2019, according to the Virtuoso Luxe Report.

The Virtuoso Hot 10:

The countries that have seen the largest percentage of growth in year-over-year bookings.

  1. Switzerland (+589%)                                      6. Spain (+112%)
  2. Greece (+312%)                                              7. Turks and Caicos (+90%)
  3. Morocco (+302%)                                          8. New Zealand (+84%)
  4. Japan (+220%)                                                9. Chile (+78%)
  5. United Arab Emirates (+197%)                      10. Puerto Rico (+70%)

The Hot 10 analysis: Switzerland is riding a wave of mounting popularity among upscale Americans for its exquisite scenery, abundance of world-class hotels and outdoor activities. Greece continues the upward trajectory Virtuoso first noted for last summer, as the country started emerging from financial challenges. Also returning strongly: North Africa and Middle East destinations such as Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. Growth in bookings to the region, first observed last fall, continues from luxury travelers. Another comeback story is the Caribbean, represented on the list by Turks and Caicos and Puerto Rico. Chile is emerging as a culinary destination, and numerous grape harvest festivals attract wine fans during March and April.

Data is obtained from Virtuoso’s U.S. travel agency members and displays future travel for March and April 2019. 

Virtuoso® is a leading international travel agency network specializing in luxury and experiential travel. This by-invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency partners with 20,000 elite travel advisors in 50 countries throughout North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. Drawing upon its preferred relationships with over 1,800 of the world’s best hotels and resorts, cruise lines, airlines, tour companies and premier destinations, the network provides its upscale clientele with exclusive amenities, rare experiences and privileged access. More than $26.4 billion in annual travel sales makes Virtuoso a powerhouse in the luxury travel industry. For more information, visit www.virtuoso.com.

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Where to Go in 2019: USTOA Reveals Top Destinations, Travel Trends

February 7, 2019
Venice_082518_576e2(c) Karen Rubin

Venice, Italy. USTOA named Italy as the top destination for 2019, but also raised concern about the impact of overtourism in the most popular places, like Venice. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Tour operator members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) named Italy the most popular or “hot” destination for travelers in 2019, in a recent survey conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

The top 10 “hot” destinations for the coming year also included Iceland, which ranked second, followed by Japan, Vietnam, Australia, France, Spain, Colombia, Cambodia and Portugal.

USTOA tour operator members also identified their top 10 off-the-beaten path or emerging destinations that they see gaining popularity in 2019: Iceland ranked first, Cambodia ranked second, followed by Croatia, Colombia, Vietnam, Portugal, Bhutan, Bolivia, Myanmar, and Ethiopia.

“It’s interesting see five destinations – Iceland, Cambodia, Colombia, Vietnam and Portugal – appear on both the hot destinations and emerging destinations lists,” added Terry Dale, President and CEO of USTOA. “This tells us that off-the-beaten path travel experiences continue to grow in popularity among travelers.”

Demand for immersive, culturally rich travel programs continue to remain high. Roughly 82% of members offer art and culture travel experiences. The art and culture category was also the highest ranked experiential program for travelers in 2017, based on volume of sales. Two thirds of membership offer honeymoon and romance programs, 63% of members offer adventure programs, and more than half (56%) offer multi-generational family programs.

Economic Impact and Growth Ahead

According to the study, the tour operator members of USTOA project to close out 2018 with sales reaching $18.7 billion dollars, representing 9.8 million individual travelers.

Furthermore, member operators are extremely confident about business in the year ahead: 100% of responding tour operator members anticipate growth in sales in 2019.

“Since the first PwC study was commissioned in 2012, it’s the first time we’ve seen such a bullish response with our entire membership projecting growth ahead,” said Dale. “It’s even more encouraging that more than half of members (56%) forecast growth of sales ranging from seven to 10% or more in 2019, indicating a potential boom year.”

While the Active Members of USTOA view the upcoming year with optimism, they also addressed the global risks that could impact the industry over the next three years. Terrorism topped the list with 17% of members responding they are “extremely concerned.”  However, this level of concern is a considerable drop compared to the 2016 PwC study when more than half of member (59%) were “extremely concerned.”

Political instability and overtourism, a new category this year, were the next two global risks that members were “extremely concerned” about, as named by 13% of survey respondents.

In addition, tour operator members projected that roughly 63% of total packages sold in 2018 were through travel agencies, “Reinforcing the critical role of travel advisors in the continued success of members’ businesses,” Dale cited.

When asked whose traveling, tour operator members responded that about half (48%) of their customer base are 51 to 70 years of age. The next largest category was age 36 to 50 years representing 20% of customers. Gender is split evenly with 51% female and 49% male.  Within the escorted/guided and custom tour category, female passengers were represented slightly higher at 59%.

The research was released at USTOA’s 40th Annual Conference & Marketplace, held at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge in Phoenix AZ, November 26-30, 2018.

U.S. Tour Operators Association members, representing nearly $19 billion in revenue, provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow 9.8 million travelers annually access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.  As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents.

For more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com, call 212-599-6599, or email information@ustoa.com.

 

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WalletHub: Best Credit Cards for Foreign Travel

May 12, 2018
JF Kennedy International Airport, NY

WalletHub released a study of the best credit cards for foreign travel © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

With 72 million Americans planning a foreign trip this year, credit cards providing up to 13 international travel benefits and 86% of people not fully understanding how foreign fees work, WalletHub released a report identifying the best cards to use.

WalletHub also released the results of its 2018 Foreign Transaction Fee Survey, which provides insights into people’s attitudes toward and understanding of foreign fees. You can find highlights from both below.

  • 96% of credit cards offer rental car insurance, while 86% offer travel accident insurance and 37% offer a form of luggage insurance.
  • The best credit cards for international travelers are the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card, Bank of America Travel Rewards and Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard.
  • 86% of people don’t fully understand when credit cards can charge foreign transaction fees. 82% think foreign transaction fees are unfair.
  • 51% of Americans worry more about foreign transaction fees on credit cards than tariffs on Chinese imports.
  • Two-thirds of people think credit cards should charge lower foreign transaction fees in countries allied with the U.S.
  • Capital One, Discover, USAA and Barclays are the only major issuers that exclusively offer no foreign transaction fee credit cards. Getting such a card, along with a no foreign fee debit card, enables international travelers to minimize the cost of currency conversion.

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