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December 26, 2023

Virtuoso Reveals the Hottest Travel Trends for 2024 

From wellness to yachting, the luxury travel network shares the top trends from its global survey.

By Irenie Forshaw

Travelers have been making up for lost time this year, returning in their droves to far-flung locations across the globe. And, if Virtuoso’s Luxe Report on travel trends is anything to go by, this appetite for adventure will only grow in 2024.

The luxury travel network surveyed a group of industry-leading travel agency members across more than 50 countries to gain an insight into the preferences and desires shaping the high-end travel sphere for the year ahead.

It’s been a turbulent time for travel and, as the pandemic gradually fades from our minds, there has been a dramatic shift from binge-watching TV in our pajamas to planning that bucket list trip.

For those with the funds to travel, there’s a clear desire to tick off those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that only recently felt completely out of reach. Here, we break down the findings from Virtuoso’s survey on travel trends for 2024 to give you some inspiration when planning your next vacation.

[See also: Elite Traveler’s Top Suites in the World]

Destination

Temple in Japan Virtuoso
Japan scoops the top spot for ‘re-emerging destinations’ / ©Virtuoso

First, let’s get straight down to where affluent travelers want to go. Whether retreating to a Tuscan wine estate or one of Amalfi’s historic palazzos, Italy takes first place across the board when it comes to top destinations for 2024. For US and UK travelers, it’s closely followed by France and Greece. No surprises there.

When it comes to ‘re-emerging destinations’ by region, Japan – one of the last countries to open its borders – scoops the top spot, with Egypt, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Antarctica also on the rise (cruises to the White Continent have seen a dramatic uptick).

“Experienced travelers are diverging from the usual European options and branching out to exotic locales driven by the desire to visit a place dreamed of during the pandemic or even the ambition of being the ‘first’ to a destination,” explains Misty Belles, vice president for global public relations at Virtuoso.

“The cultural richness of these re-emerging hotspots offers unique and exciting itineraries for those seeking a departure from the norm and provides a story to tell friends around dinner tables on their return.”

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Virtuoso also revealed the cities wealthy travelers hope to visit next year. Paris – host of the 2024 Olympics – came in first, with Dubai, New York, London and Florence also in high demand.

Wellness

A whopping 94% of travelers are incorporating wellness into their travels, with 47% willing to pay $5,000 – $10,000 for this self-care element per trip.

While traditional spa treatments and outdoor nature-focused retreats are among the most in-demand experiences, wealthy travelers are also showing an increased interest in sleep programs, creative and performance art, and sustainable wellness.

When it comes to the top wellness destinations, Mexico, the US and Europe are the most popular spots. Virtuoso also highlighted Thailand, Bali, Fiji, Iceland and Africa as destinations where self-care is very much on the rise.

Food and Wine

It will come as little surprise that food and wine are a major draw when it comes to vacation planning, with 70% of Virtuoso advisors reporting an increase in culinary travel.

Visiting a brewery or distillery and sampling street food take the top spots for favored culinary experiences, with more travelers hoping to fully immerse themselves in cultures through food.

Italy, France and Mexico are the most popular foodie destinations, with Portugal, Copenhagen, Croatia and Colombia emerging as culinary hotspots.

Exclusive Use

Camels in Egypt Virtuoso travel trends 2024
Egypt is one of the most sought-after destinations according to Virtuoso’s Luxe Report on travel trends for 2024 / ©Virtuoso

The pandemic has spurred a notable shift to exclusive-use experiences. From swapping first-class flights for private aviation to opting for luxury villas instead of five-star hotels, high-net-worth travelers are seeking hassle-free, custom trips away from prying eyes.

“People were inconvenienced to such a degree during the pandemic that they’re now looking for ways to minimize stress, annoyances and remove anything that potentially interrupts their plans,” says Belles.

Yachting has seen a dramatic rise in demand; Virtuoso’s report reveals 2023 bookings were up 79% over 2019. The Caribbean, Croatia, Greece,and San Tropez are among the most sought-after spots The luxury travel network also found an increase in demand for intimate, small-vessel cruises. Popular routes include the Danube River, the Mekong River and the Nile.

Sustainability

High-net-worth travelers are demonstrating a growing awareness of the environmental impact of their trips. Virtuoso’s Luxe Report revealed that 29% of UK travelers are looking to minimize their carbon footprint with carbon offsetting initiatives, while 82% are selecting destinations with more moderate weather conditions.

When it comes to giving back, affluent travelers are most likely to support animal wildlife conservation, local communities, land conservation projects and staying at eco-lodges.

Belles highlights Greece, Morocco and Hawaii as places that have been top of mind for travelers who want to support those recently impacted by disaster. “We’ve seen clients taking action to support the economy of such destinations, including making donations to local relief efforts, supporting local businesses, attending vetted fundraising events and engaging in volunteering,” she explains.

To combat over-tourism and avoid the crowds, the report also found travelers are visiting destinations at off-peak times and embracing the ‘slow season’.

virtuoso.com

[See also: Elite Traveler Reveals Top Jets in the World Database for 2024]

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