Despite World Events, Agents Say the Desire to Travel Is Still Strong

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From terrorist attacks to Zika to natural disasters and political unrest, there are a slew of reasons the American jet setter should be turned off to travel this year.

But none of them seem to be working.

“Despite current world events that might lead one to believe otherwise, the health of the travel industry is only getting better,” says Lindsey Epperly of Epperly Travel. “Interestingly enough, some of the circumstances are not causing travelers to stay glued to a 500-mile radius of their armchair. Instead, they are taking these circumstances as an opportunity to finally fulfill ‘Bucket List’ items and fling themselves farther across the globe.”

Based on discussions we’ve recently had with several top advisors, including Epperly, clients are not only ignoring all reasons not to travel, they are also breaking the bank on their 2017 vacations. 

“Clients are spending on travel in a big way with Bucket List items and top suites included on all trips,” says Dane Steele Green of Steele Luxury Travel. “Steele Luxury Travel has never been busier. Some say [clients] were sitting on cash right after the economic downturn and are ready to spend, others say we are in the beginning of a period of inflation.”

And if clients are deciding to postpone a trip for non-financial reasons like the fear of terrorism, just give it some time, says Heather Christopher of Heather Christopher Travel Consulting.

“In my own case study on when terror attacks and [other] crazy things are happening in the world, the average time it takes to go back to normal travel booking is four to six weeks,” says Christopher. “Then it's like it never happened.”

Christopher told Travel Agent that there was a bit of a travel lull earlier in the year, but that picked back up after the inauguration.

Are Clients Less Afraid of Zika in 2017?

Ryan Doncsecz of VIP Vacations, Inc. says even the Zika scare that kept most people from the Caribbean and Latin America in 2016 hasn’t had much of an effect on bookings in 2017. 

"Zika is still on some people's minds, but we don't hear the ‘Z’ word too frequently,” he told us. “However, that could just be those clients choosing not to travel until more news comes out.”

Epperly told Travel Agent that Zika-related inquiries from clients have practically vanished from last year to this year. 

“The concern over Zika has dissipated almost as quickly as it started,” she says. “I do still see concern from younger couples who might be planning a family relatively soon but, otherwise, we rarely get asked about Zika or see it affecting travel plans. “

What’s Hot in 2017?

Luxury advisor David Rubin of DavidTravel told Travel Agent his two most popular destinations for 2017 so far have been Iceland and Japan. Other top choices, says Rubin, include Cuba, Colombia, Chile, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

Steele told us Asia in general is very hot amongst clients in 2017, with a big focus on Hong Kong and Japan. He also told us summer vacation requests to Europe's mainland and the Mediterranean are starting to surface.

“We've had an all time high number of bookings to both Southeast Asia and South and East Africa over the past few months,” says Epperly. “These travelers set a great example.”

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news and be sure to follow Travel Agent's Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.