Travel Leaders Reports Americans Are Headed to Europe in 2013

river cruiseOver 92 percent of Travel Leaders Group agents surveyed in the United States say clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2013 as compared to last year, and Europe – along with European cruising – appears to be driving much of that spending, according to Travel Leaders Group's 2013 Travel Trends Survey.

Travel Leaders reports that three of the top five international destinations and half of the top ten international destinations are European. Demand is also high as over 82 percent of the surveyed agents indicate that bookings are on par or greater than this time one year ago.

The survey, based on actual booking data, was conducted by Travel Leaders Group from November 19 - December 16, 2012, and includes responses from 1,045 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents.

“2013 is shaping up to be a banner year for European travel. While Caribbean cruises are still the number one international ‘destination’ for our travelers, our booking data shows a marked increase in American travelers headed across the Atlantic in the coming year,” said Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben

“Rome and London always draw large numbers of travelers – this year each city moved up one spot to numbers four and five, respectively, on our list. The biggest surprise for some may be the spectacular rebound for European cruises. Mediterranean cruises landed in our top three for the first time ever and European river cruising is the ultimate ‘hot’ ticket – in just two years it has jumped 13 places to the eighth most booked international destination in our survey. That’s simply stunning," Liben said

“The continued uptick in travel spending year-over-year – and the fact that over 82 percent of agents state the number of bookings are the same or higher than last year at this time – may indicate that Americans are fairly confident we won’t go over the ‘fiscal cliff’ and it goes hand-in-hand with travelers heading to more distant and unique destinations,” added Liben.

“Certain destinations will be perennial favorites, such as Orlando and Las Vegas, but for travelers interested in staying ahead of the pack, we also identify the top up-and-coming destinations. This year we looked at four different regions around the world and the results vary from New Zealand and Vietnam to Croatia and Ecuador, including the Galapagos. That’s a very positive indicator for our industry,” Liben said.

Findings from this year’s survey include:

Top “Up and Coming” International Destinations:

Travel Leaders Group agents nationally indicate Croatia remains the top “up and coming” international destination within Europe, New Zealand is the hot new destination in the Pacific, Vietnam is still tops within Asia, and Ecuador (including the Galapagos) is the up-and- comer over Panama among destinations within Central/South America.

- Europe “Up and Coming”: Croatia (34.9%), Turkey (12.9%), Czech Republic (12.2%), Portugal (10.9%), and Iceland (9.87%)

- Pacific “Up and Coming”: New Zealand (27.8%), Fiji (13.6%), Tahiti (13.0%), Bora Bora (12.8%), and Australia – South Australia (5.4%). It should be noted that if Australia wasn’t broken out by state, it would be second behind New Zealand with 16.3%.

- Asia/Southeast Asia “Up and Coming”: Vietnam (48.3%), Indonesia (7.6%), Burma/Myanmar (7.2%), Cambodia (7.2%), and Malaysia (6.8%).

- Central/South America “Up and Coming”: Ecuador and Galapagos Islands (18.2%), Panama (17.5%), Peru (17.1%), Brazil (16.8%), and Argentina (10.5%).

Travel Spending in 2013:

Based on current bookings to date for 2013 and conversations with clients, over 92 percent of Travel Leaders Group agents said clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2013 (53.1% say clients will spend more while 39.1% say spending will remain the same). That percentage is up over 2012 when 91.3 percent said clients would spend the same or more than in 2011.

Top Destinations: U.S. and International Based on Actual 2013 Bookings:

1 CRUISE- Caribbean

 2 Cancun, Mexico 

3 CRUISE- Europe (Mediterranean) 

4 Rome, Italy

5 London, England 

6 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 

7 Playa del Carmen/Riviera Maya, Mexico 

8 CRUISE- Europe (River)

9 (tie)Montego Bay, Jamaica and Paris, France 


2013 Top Domestic Destinations

1 Orlando, FL

 2 Las Vegas, NV

3. (tie)Cruise – Alaska/Maui

 5 New York City, NY

6 Honolulu, HI

 7 San Francisco, CA 

8 Washington, D.C. 

9 Chicago, IL

10 Los Angeles, CA 

11 Fort Lauderdale, FL 

Top Cruise Destinations for 2013: Western Caribbean itineraries edged out Alaska. Agents are also booking a significant number of European river cruises and Mediterranean cruises – both landed among the top five.

Mediterranean Cruises –The  458 leisure agents who indicate they book Mediterranean cruises, who said bookings are higher than or equal to last year: 79.9 percent.

The ranking:

1  Caribbean – Western

2 Alaska 

3 Caribbean – Eastern 

4 Europe – River Cruise

5 Europe – Mediterranean

European River Cruises: The 458  leisure agents who indicate they book Europe river cruises, said bookings are higher than or equal to last year for 92.4 percent (60.7% say “higher while 31.7% say “equal to last year”).

Overall 2013 bookings so far compared to 2012 bookings at this time last year: They’re higher - 45.7 Percent vs 39.5 Percent in 2012.

What is your personal outlook on your business in 2013? 78.7 percent were optimistic in 2013 and 78.8 percent optimistic in 2012.