travel destinations: new zealand
New Zealand’s growth as a luxury travel destination has doubled from 2013

Every year, Virtuoso holds the ultimate luxury travel shopping and networking event: Virtuoso Travel Week. This year, more than 4,100 travel advisors and suppliers such as hotels, cruise lines and airlines are spending a week in Las Vegas meeting with each other on behalf of their shared clients. Each year, an estimated $450 million in sales to travel destinations far and wide results from Virtuoso Week.

Leisure travel is experiencing a massive increase, with more than one billion tourists now crossing international borders – a new record. Luxury travelers are increasingly gravitating to a few select worldwide travel destinations.

Where Are The Hottest Luxury Travel Destinations?

Drawing upon its data warehouse of more than $32 billion in client transactions, Virtuoso has released its latest lists of where luxury travelers are venturing. Travel to countries outside the U.S. is up 21 percent compared to the same time last year. And trips to Virtuoso’s 10 most popular travel destinations are averaging an 18 percent uptick. Western Europe and North America dominate the list:

Virtuoso Top 10 Most Popular Travel Destinations

travel destinations: italy
Italy is the most popular destination among Virtuoso clients
  1. Italy (up 6%)
  2. United Kingdom (30%)
  3. France (23%)
  4. Canada (9%)
  5. Spain (20%)
  6. Germany (31%)
  7. Mexico (17%)
  8. South Africa (down 5%)
  9. Netherlands (18%)
  10. Greece (57%)

Virtuoso’s Hot List of Biggest Year-Over-Year Growth

A surge in demand for Down Under has propelled New Zealand to the top of the Hot List of growing travel destinations, with Australia also occupying a spot. Fueled by the popularity of the Lord of the Rings films, New Zealand has become a standalone destination in its own right rather than being tacked onto an Australia trip for a few days. It’s often a first trip abroad for a family, and is appealing to everyone from foodies to adventure-seekers.

Central Europe is experiencing a surge, including Hungary (86%), Croatia (68%), Austria (48%), Poland (48%), and Czech Republic (23%). Russia, however, has seen a sharp decline, down 69%. Overall, travel to European countries is up by 23%. 

  1. New Zealand (196%)
  2. Chile (103%)
  3. Indonesia (103%)
  4. Hungary (86%)
  5. Hong Kong (72%)
  6. Croatia (68%)
  7. Australia (58%)
  8. Ecuador (57%)
  9. Greece (57%)
  10. Norway (54%)

Journey to Global Citizenship

travel destinations: global citizens
Luxury travelers are giving their children international experiences to create global citizens

The latest luxury travel developments also emerge at Virtuoso Week, and here are three of the newest trends. While family and multigenerational travel have been significant trends for some time, Virtuoso has spotted the latest evolution in that niche.

Travelers want to vacation with their loved ones to build closer connections both within their families – and with the world around them. Using travel to supplement traditional education for children is a new philosophy Virtuoso has termed the “Journey to Global Citizenship.” Parents and even grandparents are looking at travel as a way to give the next generation a leg up in the world. They’re even matching travel experiences to the topics their children or grandchildren are studying in school.

“One of the smartest things you can do, if you have the means, is take your kids to China or India or Brazil,” advised Virtuoso Chairman & CEO Matthew Upchurch. “These countries will influence much of the business being done now and in the future, and kids who have insight into these cultures, who learn to adapt in unfamiliar surroundings early on, and who gain an understanding of the world around them, will have a certain advantage when it’s time to enter the workforce.”

Collecting Countries and Experiences

travel destinations: collecting new countries
Seasoned luxury travelers are seeking out new travel destinations like Bhutan – and new travel experiences

No longer satisfied with visiting the same travel destinations with the same experiences, today’s luxury vacations crave what’s new. For the tried and true places, people are looking to experience them in a new way, visiting lesser-known sites, absorbing more of the local culture and looking for anything not in a guidebook. Travelers today want to take home a feel for the destination rather than a list of what they saw.

Travelers are also on a hunt to collect countries. “There is a race towards trying to get to some of the more pristine places because of the rise in mass tourism and globalization,” observed Upchurch. “The opening up of some of the new non-traditional destinations offer even more incentive for travelers to explore.”

Planning Your Own Trip

If any of these trends or hot destinations resonate with you, why not contact a Virtuoso travel advisor to make your vacation dreams come true? At, you can browse a catalog of hundreds of expert advisors and find a great match. You can even find one who specializes in your travel destination of interest.



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