Talking with the Pros: Hot Destinations

First we talked last-minute booking trends, then what customers are looking for, followed by new kinds of travel. To wrap up our series on special trends, we asked a group of tour operators what destinations have become popular in recent months.

"Europe is not new, but agents need to know there is pent-up demand," said Jennifer Halboth, marketing director for the Globus family of brands. "We are encouraging agents to get their European tour clients booked early this year to take advantage of better airfares and to secure the most popular departures.

"Outside of Europe, South America is ripe for strong tour growth," she continued. "A few setbacks due to natural disasters in 2010 will also lead to pent-up demand for South America, and it's an ideal tour destination given the size of the continent, language barriers and multi-faceted natures of the sightseeing and inclusions."

Nigel Osborne, president of Virgin Vacations, said that following the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa is attracting more travelers who are interested in the country's wine, safari and general touring. Egypt and Berlin have both increased this year, he noted, as have unique itineraries in the UK. For affordable travel, he says trips to Prague, Budapest, Scotland and the southwest of France are also on the rise.

Pamela Lassers of Abercrombie & Kent said trips to Morocco, Syria and Lebanon are on the rise, as are second or third trips to China or India ("often an extension of a business trip"). In China, people are going to Yunnan and Hangzhou, while in India, they are exploring the backwaters of Kerala.

John Lovell of Vacation.com has noticed an increase in travel to Egypt, southern Italy, Morocco, and many areas within Asia. "The weakening of the Euro against the U.S. dollar has fueled some of the interest," he says, "however, the exotic nature and experiential aspect of locations like Vietnam and the middle east are driving the consumer to these markets."

Marc Kazlauskas of Insight Vacations says that Turkey has really "done outstanding" as a destination, and, from early indications, will continue to do so in 2011. Jordan is popular as well, and "Ireland is more popular this year than the last three."

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