Shopping Tourism: Retail Therapy on Vacation

Tourists love to shop. Studies by the U.S. Travel Association and the Department of Commerce show that shopping and dining are the top two activities of travelers. In fact, travelers spend one-third of their total travel funds on retail purchases.

Shopping tourism: couple on vacation

Shopping tourism is appealing to all kinds of travelers

Shopping Tourism On the Rise

According to Ian Stazicker, tourism director – global marketing at Virtuoso partner Value Retail, shopping tourism account for 40 percent of global luxury spending. Value Retail operates nine Chic Outlet Shopping open-air designer villages outside European hubs such as Paris and Madrid, as well as one in China.

Retail tourism is growing so fast, says Stazicker, that “between 2008 and 2012 we have seen an increase in visitors of more than 43 percent to 30 million.” [Read more…]

Chairman’s China

Hitting the wall: St. Regis Beijing hosted a once-in-a-lifetime lunch on the Great Wall of China at Virtuoso’s 2011 Chairman’s Event.

By Elaine Srnka
Editorial Director, Virtuoso Life

Some climbed a few steps, others took in the view from their seats, and an ambitious few even laced up their sneakers for the ultimate run. Regardless of their vantage, all attendees at Virtuoso’s annual Chairman’s Event, held in China last week, will agree: Lunch on the Great Wall ranks as one of the top travel experiences of a lifetime.

Actually, the entire week, which began in Beijing and ended in Shanghai, was punctuated with many “wow” moments, with stunning hotels, decadent meals, entertaining cultural performances, and incredible venues.

The event was Virtuoso’s seventh annual recognition trip, honoring its top travel agency owners and managers from 65 agencies and their guests.

Virtuoso on-sites Imperial Tours and Abercrombie & Kent Asia collaborated with numerous Virtuoso preferred hotels to create an itinerary that showcased luxury tourism in China. Attendees stayed at the historic Raffles Hotel Beijing and the glittering Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong. Other host hotels that sponsored events included Aman at Summer Palace, Grand Hyatt Shanghai, The Opposite House, the Park Hyatt hotels in Beijing and Shanghai, The Peninsula Shanghai, Shangri-La’s China World Summit Wing, and St. Regis Beijing.

After a brief business meeting, at which attendees heard from a tourism official, an author, and university students in China, the whirlwind trip began. In Beijing, highlights included exclusive, expert-led tours of the Forbidden City, hutong visits, bargain-shopping at the Pearl and Silk markets, tai-chi in the Temple of Heaven, and exploring the contemporary art scene in 798 District. Dinner and dancing at the National Aquatic Center (the “Water Cube” where Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics) capped off the Beijing stay. In cosmopolitan Shanghai, which dazzled with its eye-popping skyline and high-end shopping, the agenda included museum tours, Bund river cruises, and an excursion to an ancient water village.

Tourism is a top priority for China (it welcomed 184 million tourists in 2010), and these advisors enjoyed first-hand, exclusive access to this fascinating, rapidly changing country. Their insight and tips on traveling to China will be showcased in the January/February issue of Virtuoso Life, Virtuoso’s flagship luxury travel publication.

Travel Aspirations Go Global

Virtuoso Life Magazine reveals the results of the annual Travel Dreams Survey

In 2010, travel aspirations have gone global, according to the results from the fourth annual Travel Dreams Sweepstakes Survey, presented by Virtuoso. Nearly 11,000 readers of VIRTUOSO LIFE, the network’s award-winning magazine, weighed in on the survey to reveal the exotic lands, life-changing experiences and thrilling adventures that upscale travelers are currently seeking.

When asked what they consider the trip of a lifetime, readers were clear that setting sail for a world cruise would be a paramount experience. Calling on all seven continents and visiting the new wonders of the world followed close behind as trips of a lifetime, indicating the desire of travelers to visit the globe. The Galápagos Islands also had a strong presence in this year’s results: This island destination was named the most alluring island escape; the second best outdoor adventure; and the third best destination for families.

“This year’s survey results reflect a shift in consumers’ motivation to travel,” said Elaine Srnka, editorial director for VIRTUOSO LIFE. “Travelers want to see the world. They are no longer content with staying in one place. Whether it’s visiting the far corners of the earth on a world cruise, hiking through remote Machu Picchu or tasting local cuisines through cooking schools, travelers want unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”

The top 10 dream destinations also reflected readers’ longing to visit far-off lands, with Australia, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Greece nabbing the first five spots. Paris held onto its reign as the most romantic city to spend time with a loved one, as well as the best gourmet city. Rome remains the city with the most beautiful architecture, and Tuscany continues to be the wine region travelers want to toast the most. Again this year, readers felt going on a safari to Africa would merit the best outdoor adventure.

The Travel Dreams results largely supported Virtuoso’s 2010 Luxe Report, insight gleaned from the network’s elite travel advisors, which revealed that travelers in 2010 are booking longer vacations to more distant destinations. Of the travel professionals that participated in the Luxe Report survey, 71 percent reported that clients are seeking international travel for 10 days or more.

This year, readers had extra enticement to share their opinions: an opportunity to win their own dream trip!  Three lucky winners got to choose one of these trips: a ten-day exploration of the Galápagos Islands aboard Lindblad Expedi­tions’ National Geographic Endeavour; a 12-day cruise aboard the Seabourn Pride from Bangkok to Shanghai; or a trip to South Af­rica on Virgin Atlantic Airways to spend five nights at the One&Only Cape Town.

VIRTUOSO LIFE’s Travel Dreams survey was designed to gather consumer travel trends and offer inspiration for future journeys. The 12-question survey explored readers’ opinions about everything from their dream destinations and the best cities for dining to the best destinations for romance and families.  Top-line results can be found below, and the results are featured in the July/August issue of VIRTUOSO LIFE.

The survey results were tallied from responses from almost 11,000 VIRTUOSO LIFE readers who participated in the Travel Dreams Sweepstakes. Virtuoso promoted the sweepstakes via email and within the magazine.

To view a digital edition of the VIRTUOSO LIFE July/August “Readers’ Choice Travel Dreams” issue, click here.


Share Your Travel Dreams, Win a Dream Vacation

For the fourth consecutive year, Virtuoso is sponsoring the annual VIRTUOSO LIFE Travel Dreams Sweepstakes.  You are invited to explore your travel dreams by taking this short online survey that takes you on a journey through amazing travel possibilities, plus earns you a chance to win an ultimate travel dream!

Through taking the survey you’ll discover:

  • The perfect vacation destination for your family to enjoy quality time together
  • The island escape you find most alluring
  • The gourmet city where you most want to linger over a meal
  • Your dream destination
  • And, more.

The questionnaire takes only minutes to complete, but will leave you with inspiration to last a lifetime.  What’s more, once you complete the survey you’ll be able to pre-select the dream travel prize you’d most like to win.

Take the survey, and you could be packing your bags for:

Rejuvenating South Africa – 5 nights at One&Only Cape Town + airfare aboard Virgin Atlantic Airways

Exotic Galápagos Islands – 10 days aboard the National Geographic Endeavour with Lindblad Expeditions

Mystic Asian Cruise – 12 day Bangkok to Shanghai cruise on the Seabourn Pride from The Yachts of Seabourn

Consider the possibilities. Go to or click here to complete the survey today!

* ELIGIBILITY. The Sweepstakes is offered only in the fifty (50) United States (including the District of Columbia), and is open only to natural persons who, at the time of Entry: (i) are legal residents of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia, (ii) have pre-existing internet access, and (iii) are 21 years of age or older. See complete Official Rules.