Gondolas at Hotel Ca Sagredo in Venice. Photo: gnuckx.
Luxury travelers are focused on Italy, United Kingdom, and France as their three top foreign destinations, according to luxury travel network Virtuoso. In a survey based on future bookings, Virtuoso named those three countries as the most popular destinations, followed by Spain, Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, South Africa, Greece, and Israel.
On the other hand, while European countries continue to dominate the list of favored destinations, with eight of the 10 countries, Virtuoso said its sales to the continent are flat when compared to summer 2015. France, led by Paris, has rebounded nicely and remains strong, with Paris bookings up 35% in the first quarter alone, following last November’s terrorist attacks in that city. The Brussels terrorist attacks occurred after the survey was completed.
Bookings to the Netherlands are up 38% for this summer over the same time last year, as Virtuoso’s partner hotels report average daily rates (ADR) that are 44% lower than the European average of $793 per night. Ireland’s ADR is 31% lower than the European average, leading it to see a 58% jump in bookings.
In contrast, bookings to Turkey, which was a top 20 summer destination in 2015, has suffered after several terrorist bombings in the key cities of Istanbul and the capital of Ankara. First quarter bookings were down a whopping 70%, with a projected year over year decline of 65%.
Those countries that have seen the largest percentage of growth in year-over-year bookings so far include, Tanzania (up 98%), Portugal (up 88%), Ireland (up 58%), Brazil (up 53% despite continued media coverage of the Zika virus in that country), Mexico (up 48%), Russia (up 44%), Netherlands (up 38%), Jamaica (up 28%), Sweden (up 23%) and Poland (up 18%)
According to Virtuoso, Africa is experiencing 15% growth in travel overall, with Tanzania seeing a huge increase in bookings, as travelers seek out its scenery and diverse wildlife. South Africa, site of this week’s Virtuoso Symposium in Cape Town, is also more bookings than last year. Together the two countries represent 80% of Virtuoso’s travel to Africa.
Portugal is also up significantly, with travel to the Azores in particular seeing an increase. Portugal’s hotel ADR is also favorable for travelers at 58% lower than the European average. Of the European countries, Portugal exhibiting the strongest growth year over year, although Ireland, Russia, Netherlands, Sweden, and Poland are running just behind it.
Despite the Zika virus scare, Brazil is seeing a big boost due to the Summer Olympics, set for Aug 5-21. Mexico and Jamaica, more typical winter travel destinations, are benefiting from inexpensive direct flights from the U.S. as well as lower hotel rates.
The new survey is based on data sourced from Virtuoso’s U.S. and Canadian-based travel agency members and reflects future travel for June, July, and August 2016. The Top and Hot 10 lists represent international travel only, so the U.S. and Canada are not mentioned. The findings were announced during the Virtuoso Symposium taking place in Cape Town this week.