THE VALUE OF TIME

Virtuoso Winter and 2024 Trends for Canadians; More Europe and Caribbean

Virtuoso says Lisbon is one of the top cities Canadians want to visit in 2024. Jim Byers Photo

Canadian booking windows are returning to normal, expedition cruises are rapidly gaining favour and the Caribbean once again looms large for winter.

A new study from Virtuoso covers a ton of ground on trends in the industry, and also comes up with the top places Canadians are looking to book for the coming winter season. The network notes that some typical spring and summer destinations are now creeping into the top 5 places to go, including France and Spain.

Global luxury and experiential travel network Virtuoso surveyed its industry-leading travel agency members, and their teams of professional travel advisors, to predict what lies ahead in the coming year. According to the 2024 Virtuoso Luxe Report, Canadian travellers are increasingly comfortable venturing further afield, demonstrating a committed sense of adventure and urgency for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in far-flung locations.

With the value of time – and the significance of how and with whom we spend it – now a focal point for many, Virtuoso travel advisors report their clients are more interested than ever in fulfilling their travel aspirations. Despite inflation and global unrest, they remain insatiably curious and willing to pay for new experiences. More than 46 percent of advisors surveyed expect an increase in travel demand and almost 60 percent anticipate an increase in spend per trip in 2024.

The Luxe Report identified five key trends highlighting how upscale globetrotters are establishing their influence in the travel-sphere for 2024.

Sarlat la Caneda is a lovely town in the Dordogne region of France. Jim Byers Photo

New Frontiers: Although many continue to find comfort in their past favourites, other experienced travellers are diverging from the usual European options and branching out to exotic locales and less-explored areas. Driven by the desire to visit a place dreamed of during the pandemic, an under-the-radar location recommended by an advisor or even the ambition of being “first” to a destination, luxury travellers are intrigued by the unexplored. The cultural richness of reemerging travel hotspots, such as Japan and Iceland, offer unique and exciting itineraries for those seeking a departure from the norm.

The Party Continues: Post-pandemic travel saw many delayed celebrations realized, and the festivities continue with celebration travel topping the list of travel motivations for 2024. It’s no surprise Canadians are sharing life’s most important moments with family – both travel with immediate family and multigenerational travel appear on the trends list. Whether commemorating a milestone or simply spending quality time together, travel remains an essential part of connecting with loved ones.

Honoring the Earth: Extreme weather has shaped a traveller who is hyper-aware of the fragility of the world and eager to honour its majesty. Virtuoso advisors say their clients are pushing geographical boundaries to witness nature in its pristine form for fear it will diminish or become inaccessible. Greece, Morocco and Hawaii are also top-of-mind for travellers who want to support the economy of destinations recently impacted by disaster while remaining respectful of their recovery.

Small Ships, Big Possibilities: With less crowded, more intimate settings in favour, small-vessel cruising is on the rise with new and experienced cruisers alike. Upscale voyagers in search of a more authentic experience are favouring river cruises for the casual atmosphere, proximity to major cities and wide-ranging itineraries. Popular routes include the Danube River, the Mekong River and the Nile. Adventure cruising is also trending due to prevailing interest in Alaska and increased accessibility to Antarctica, 2024’s leading adventure destination.

At Ease: Lingering restrictions, frustrating shortages and turbulent air travel have led to increased demand for custom trips made easy. From exclusive-use experiences – private jets, yachts and villas – to booking half days at hotels to ensure they have accommodations that fit their needs, today’s traveller is maximizing comfort. The desire to leave nothing to chance serves as increased motivation for using a professional travel advisor to simplify bookings and enhance the overall experience.

Perennially popular Italy remains the global favourite destination, whether for families or honeymooners. But it’s not simply back to basics for luxury travellers. Croatia and Portugal are the new European favourites for those looking to avoid crowds in Italy and Greece. One of the last countries to open its borders to the outside world, Japan, with its refined culture and in-demand cuisine, heads the list of reemerging destinations.

Getting away from inclement weather remains a top travel motivator for Canadians, especially families, who are booking warm-weather getaways in the Dominican Republic, Hawaii and Costa Rica. Due to elevated interest in the upcoming Paris Olympics, as well as its status as a beloved destination among foodies and art connoisseurs, France ascended into the top five in two categories. Adventure seekers are drawn to the enchantment of the northern lights and the unspoiled splendour of Iceland, Alaska and Antarctica.

Where Canadians are Travelling December to March

Based on Virtuoso’s future hotel bookings from 1DEC 2023 to 29FEB 2024, the top 10 winter destinations include:

  1. United States
  2. France
  3. Bahamas
  4. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  5. Mexico
  6. Barbados
  7. Anguilla
  8. Maldives
  9. Spain
  10. Saint Barthélemy

Top Global Destinations 2024

  1. Italy
  2. Greece
  3. France
  4. Australia
  5. England

Top Global Cities 2024

  1. Paris
  2. Barcelona
  3. Lisbon
  4. London
  5. Rome
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