Week in Review: Growth Projected for 2024; New Florida Hotels

The earthquake that struck Japan’s western coast on New Year's Day has killed nearly 100 people, removed 33,000 people from their homes and left over 200 people missing. The epicenter of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake was on the Noto Peninsula in the central Ishikawa prefecture, causing major damage to houses and roads.

Following the event, a Coast Guard plan leaving Tokyo’s Haneda Airport en route to bring supplies to the region collided with a commercial Japan Airlines aircraft on the runway, resulting in five deaths (all among the Coast Guard). All 379 onboard the Japan Airlines flight escaped despite the Airbus A350-900 bursting into flames. Although this resulted in all flights to and from the airport being briefly held, normal operations resumed later that day and travel to the country has remained unaffected, despite the earthquake, since.

In other destination news, Brazil is again pushing back the start date for its eVisa requirement for American travelers. First set to commence in October 2023, it was pushed back to January 10—and even had the systems online in December—before this week’s second delay. The program is now scheduled to go into effect on April 10, although the country’s minister of tourism, Celso Sabino, and tourist board president, Marcelo Freixo, wanted to push the start back until after the busy summer season.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro's Carnival, scheduled for February 9-17, is a big reason why the visa program was pushed back. (Photo by Nikada/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Strong Growth Projected for 2024

Travel advisors from a range of agencies and networks are predicting plenty of growth for 2024. To note, 79 of respondents to a recent survey by American Marketing Group—which comprises TRAVELSAVERS, NEST and The Affluent Traveler Collection—foresee their sales increasing in 2024, while 80 percent of respondents to a Travel Experts survey project a business increase for 2024.

Among American Marketing Group’s advisors, 31 percent envision significant growth and 48 percent believe sales will grow somewhat. On the Travel Experts side, these numbers come as more than 95 percent reported that business was up in 2023.

According to the surveys, Europe is expected to again reign as the dominant international destination, with the U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Croatia as the most popular countries. Advisors are also interested in the potential of generative artificial in (GAI). About half (51 percent) of American Marketing Group advisors view it positively, saying it’s a great tool or has potential. Eighteen percent view it neutrally and another 17 percent aren’t sure about its impact.

Along those lines, Cruise Planners recently unveiled several new technology tools, including Maxx Intelligence, which integrates advanced artificial intelligence to enhance the travel planning experience for both travel advisors and their clients. It can provide recommendations, create content, provide predictive analysis and more.

Hunter Hotel Investment Conference logo
Artificial intelligence is expected to be a major talking point among travel advisors in 2024. (Photo by Shutthiphong Chandaeng/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Separately, HBX Group—the parent company of hotelbeds, bedsonline and others—revealed its top anticipated trends for 2024. Among them: Experiential travel, luxury travel, the rebound of Asia-Pacific, personalization and automation, “daycations,” the rise of sustainable travel and a focus on fintech. Last year, topics front of mind for the company included “trip stacking” with many catching up on trips denied during the pandemic, and the continued digitalization of the hotel experience.

Tip: Looking to build your business? Questex Travel Group announced the topics for its two virtual event series in 2024—“Navigating Your Travel Business” and “Selling Luxury”—each curated by the editors of Travel Agent Central and Luxury Travel Advisor, respectively. The programs host a lineup of leading speakers and suppliers who will present tangible content and poignant information travel advisors can leverage in their day-to-day businesses. The topics are relevant to today’s busy, technologically advanced traveler and based on feedback received from the advisor audience.

New Hotels on Florida’s Gulf Coast

There’s always plenty going on in the “Sunshine State” when it comes to travel and tourism—and this week, there was a concentration of news from the southwest of the state.

To note: AC Hotels by Marriott opened its newest property in Naples. AC Hotel Naples 5th Avenue is a three-story building with 150 guestrooms, a lobby and ground-floor café, 2,500 square feet of event space, a fitness center and an outdoor rooftop pool, as well as Limón, a signature rooftop restaurant and bar with indoor and outdoor seating.

Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor
Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor is the first new-build resort with more than 750 rooms to open in Southwest Florida in over 13 years. (Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor)

Heading further north, Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor has officially debuted. The independently flagged property becomes the first new-build resort with more than 750 rooms to open in Southwest Florida in over 13 years. The resort houses 20 F&B options, two pools, a 7,100-square-foot fitness center and full-service spa and salon, and the 18-hole Aileron Golf Club, exclusive to members and hotel guests.

Nearby, the newly revamped Manasota Key Resort opened its doors with upgraded guest suites and a range of amenities to offer travelers a luxurious and sustainable stay. The five-acre, 83-key resort is located between the Gulf of Mexico and the mangrove forests of Lemon Bay. Manasota Key Resort houses a range of cottages, private bungalows and suites, as well as two swimming pools, a mini putting green, an outdoor kitchen, a private dock, pickleball courts and an onsite market. For those seeking a bit of adventure, the resort offers a variety of recreational activities.

Related Stories

HX Announces 2025-26 Season Lineup

Brendan Vacations Adds New Experiences in Ireland and Scotland

Oceania Cruises Announces New Voyages on Riviera

Festival Napa Valley Announces First Look at 2024 Summer Season