Italy remains the most in-demand destination for North Americans looking for guided tours in 2023, with Portugal, Ireland and Egypt also showing strong demand. More off-the-beaten destinations including parts of Africa and Asia are also starting to pick up steam after three years of low interest.
According to most of the tour operators Travel Market Report reached out to, European destinations are outpacing all others for 2023.
"Europe is a perennial favorite with our guests, and even with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, that continues to hold true," said Jeremy Palmer, chief operating officer at Tauck. "Italy, and in particular, Sicily, and Portugal have been booking extremely well."
Central Holidays, likewise is seeing a lot of demand for Italy. The country remains the top choice for their clients in 2023, said Adam Greis, general manager of Central Holidays.
"Greece remains in the Top 3 destinations," he added.
Greece and Italy are also big sellers for Collette, according to Jeff Roy, vice president of revenue managment and pricing, along with Ireland, a destination that is also proving to be popular with Globus tour-goers.
"Britain and Ireland are always popular choices and they're leading the travel comeback for 2023," said Steve Born, chief marketing officer at Globus. A Globus spokesperson added that the fastest growing destinations for the tour company are Spain and Portugal.
At Trafalgar, Italy, Portugal, Britain and Ireland are also leading the demand for 2023 so far.
Egypt, Africa & Asia
Egypt is also proving to be popular for 2023, coming in at the number two spot for Central Holidays, according to Greis.
"We do want to add that bookings to Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, South Africa) have seen a tremendous uptick for 2023," he said, adding that interest in Israel and Ecuador is also up.
Trafalgar has also seen an increase in interest for African tours, as well as for tours to Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.
"Many far-flung destinations such as the South Pacific, Southeast Asia and Africa [are] showing better performance for 2023 when compared to past years," a spokesperson said.
At Tauck, the company is also seeing a resurgence in interest in travel to Asia, specifically Japan.
"Elsewhere – and no doubt due to the demand that's built up over the past three years – our bookings to Japan have come roaring back," Palmer told TMR.
Collette's Roy said their Asia tour are still "lagging behind its pre-COVID numbers," but added the tour company is hopeful its Japan tours will pick up the pace over the next few months.
Unlike the other tour companies, TMR spoke with, Collette said some of its closer to home destinations are continuing to do "quite well" for 2023, including Hawaii, Central America and the Canadian Rockies.