Travel Leaders: Cuba Tops Rising Luxury Travel Destinations for 2016

Photo by Joe Pike

Travel Leaders Group has released its top luxury travel trends for 2016, including the top up-and-coming destinations led by Cuba

The list also includes the United Arab Emirates, African Safaris, Iceland and Antarctica. In addition, more than 86 percent of those surveyed state that luxury travel bookings are higher than or on par with 2015, and the top international luxury travel destinations outside of North America are European river cruises, Italy, Mediterranean cruises, Australia, and England

“Today’s luxury traveler is someone who seeks incredible, authentic and memorable experiences – not merely 5-star hotels and Michelin star restaurants. So it makes perfect sense that Cuba, Antarctica, and African safaris are among the top ‘up-and-coming’ luxury travel destinations according to our luxury travel agents throughout the United States,” said Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko.

Conducted November 17-December 8, 2015, these luxury travel trends are based on responses from 964 Travel Leaders Group’s luxury travel agents. 

Luxury Travel Up-and-Coming Destinations

The top responses when asked, “What would you say is the top up-and-coming destination for your luxury travel clients?” were destinations such as: Cuba, United Arab Emirates, African Safaris, Iceland and Antarctica.

“Because Cuba will undoubtedly change rapidly in the coming years due to the influx of American tourists and business influences, a growing number of Protravel International’s affluent clientele want to experience its captivating time-stands-still charm now,” said Patrick Fragale, president of Protravel International. “The proximity, the people and the culture are all part of the appeal. When Americans can freely travel to Cuba for any type of vacation – not just a cultural exchange – and more luxury accommodations become available, I see Cuba moving from our up-and-coming list to join our overall list of top international destinations for luxury travelers.”

Top Luxury Travel Destinations (Outside) North America

1. Cruise - Europe (River)
2. Italy
3. Cruise – Europe (Mediterranean)
4. Australia
5. England
6. France
7. Cruise – Europe (Baltic)
8. Ireland
9. South Africa
10. Cruise – Australia/New Zealand
11. United Arab Emirates
12. Bora Bora
13. (tie) China
13. (tie) New Zealand
13. (tie) Spain

Top Luxury Travel Destinations (Within) North America

1. Cruise – Caribbean
2. Mexico
3. Dominican Republic
4. Jamaica
5. Costa Rica

Luxury Travel Bookings in 2016

When Travel Leaders Group luxury travel agents were asked to compare their overall 2016 luxury travel bookings so far to their luxury travel bookings at this time last year, over 86 percent of those surveyed say bookings are higher than or on par with 2015.

  2016 2015 2014 2013
Bookings are Higher 40.8% 48.3% 45.7% 41.5%
Bookings are Even 45.5% 41.6% 40.5% 44.6%
Bookings are Lower 13.7% 10.1% 13.8% 13.9%

"Bookings for various segments of the luxury travel industry – from multi-generational vacations and river cruises to hotels and premium airline bookings – are strong,” said Tzell President and CEO Barry Liben.  “For example, over 91 percent of survey participants state bookings for luxury multi-generational trips are higher than or on par with last year at this time, and nearly 89 percent state the same regarding luxury river cruises.”

  Increase versus 2015 Same as 2015  
Luxury Multi-generational Vacations 36.0% 55.1% (91.1%)
Luxury River Cruise Bookings 50.1% 38.6% (88.7%)
Luxury Tour Bookings 35.2% 53.2% (88.4%)
Luxury Cruise Bookings 39.7% 48.3% (88.0%)
Cruise Suite Bookings 39.7% 48.3% (88.0%)
Luxury Hotel Bookings 37.5% 50.3% (87.8%)
Premium Air (First/Business) Bookings 39.7% 48.0% (87.7%)
Luxury Europe Customize Bookings 33.9% 50.2% (84.1%)
Luxury Europe Tour Bookings 29.0% 53.3% (82.3%)

These luxury travel trends are part of a comprehensive travel trends survey of 1,316 U.S.-based travel agents from Travel Leaders Group’s flagship Travel Leaders brand and All Aboard Travel, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, Results! Travel, Travel Leaders Corporate, Tzell Travel Group and units. 

Source: Travel Leaders Group’s 2016 Travel Trends Survey