New Insights Into Travel Dreams of Luxury Consumers
by Dori Saltzman /

World Cruise, Med Yacht Charters Top Luxury Wish List
For luxury clients, spending time on the high seas is high on the list of travel dreams. Taking a world cruise and sailing the Mediterranean by private yacht were the two top “trips of a lifetime,” according to Virtuoso Life magazine’s recent Travel Dreams survey. Cruising was selected as the “most desired travel experience.”

The Affluent Name Their Dream Trips, Destinations
Australia, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand and Greece were luxury consumes’ top five dream destinations, according to the Virtuoso Life survey. Next in line: Antarctica, France, French Polynesia, China and Ireland. Other trips of a lifetime dreams included: traveling to all seven continents, renting a European villa, visiting all seven New Wonders of the World, photographing the “big five” on an African safari, renting a private island, blasting off on a Virgin Galactic flight, chartering a private jet, and dining at Paris’ best restaurants.

Alas, Travel Agents’ Luxury Knowledge Is Lacking (Says One Agent)
“As the years pass, I find there are fewer agents who have the depth and breadth of knowledge to do the work in the manner luxury travelers expect.” – Valerie Edgemon, owner, Edgewood Travel, Savannah, Ga.

Stressed Americans Cry Out for ‘National Relaxation Day’
Nearly one in four Americans (23%) have NEVER had a relaxing vacation. Even for those who have had a relaxing vacation, it’s been three years, on average, since they took a break from the grind of daily life. That’s according to a recent survey by Princess Cruises. Forty percent said finding time to wind down is even harder than living with their budget, and this at a time when budget constraints for many Americans are severe. Our inability to relax takes a toll. Three-quarters said it negatively affects their mental and physical health. With so many overworked and over-stressed, it’s no surprise that three-quarters favor a new national holiday – National Relaxation Day.

More Top Marks for Cruises: Consumer Satisfaction Stays High

A whopping 94% of consumers who have taken a cruise dubbed cruising a satisfying vacation experience, according to CLIA’s 2011 Cruise Market Profile Study. Nearly half, 45%, called cruising “extremely satisfying.” Considering that 73 million Americans have cruised in their lifetimes, that’s a lot of happy campers! Word is getting out too – 50% of non-cruisers expressed an interest in taking their first cruise within the next three years. Overall, 36 million Americans say they intend to cruise within the next three years, up from 33 million in 2008. Both cruisers and non-cruisers valued the fact that cruises visit multiple destinations, provide pampering, fine dining and the chance to get away from it all.

Leisure Traveler Demographics Shifting in Post-Recession Recovery
The average age of the typical leisure traveler jumped five years – from 39 to 44 – between 2009 and 2010, according to PhoCusWright’s Consumer Travel Report, third edition. The report cited a significant drop in travel among young adults, coupled with a quick bounce-back in travel for younger baby boomers. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, the incidence of leisure trips dropped to 65% in 2010, down from 71% the year before. Travel by 45- to 54-year-olds saw the strongest recovery. But the travel recovery is far from complete. Younger boomers in particular are still overcoming their severe reaction to the recession, when they became “extremely conservative,” said research director Carroll Rheem. “We saw those travelers pull back from travel across the income spectrum.” Last year, the incidence of travel among 45- to 54-year-olds remained significantly below 2008 levels.

Do Your Clients Want Something New in Adventure Travel?
Israel, the Slovak Republic and Chile should be top recommendations for adventure travel clients who like up-and-coming destinations. Those are the developing countries with most potential for adventure, eco- and sustainable travel, according to the third annual Adventure Travel Development Index. The index ranked countries in three areas: safe and welcoming; adventure, and readiness. Overall, Eastern Europe ranked high. Among the top 10, all but three are in Eastern Europe: Estonia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Romania and Latvia. Jordan was ranked eighth. The Index is published by George Washington University, the Adventure Travel Trade Association and Vital Wave Consulting.

. . .  Or Perhaps They Prefer Tried and True Adventure Destinations
The Adventure Travel Development Index also ranked developed countries for their potential as adventure travel destinations. The top 10 were: Switzerland, Iceland, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Norway, Finland and Austria.

Samoa’s Year-End Time Change Has Brigadoon Flavor
Samoans, and visitors to Samoa, who go to bed on Dec. 29 will wake up two days later – on Dec. 31. It’s not quite as severe as Brigadoon, where tourists found themselves in a Scottish village that appears just one day every 100 years. But travelers will lose an entire day when Samoa changes time zones. The South Pacific nation will go from being 11 hours behind GMT to 11 hours ahead of it. The change will make it easier for Samoans to do business with Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific Rim, the Samoan government said.

Philippines Opens Nuclear Plant to Tourists
Only months after Russia announced it will open parts of the Chernobyl nuclear facility to visitors, the Philippines is offering its own nuke tour. The Bataan nuclear power plant is now open to visitors, who will be taken into the center of the tower to see the reactor itself. But visitors needn’t worry one watt about their safety, the Philippines government suggested. The plant, built 30 years ago, was never activated and has never produced a single watt of electricity, and the control rods remain wrapped in their original plastic packaging.