Inquiring minds want to know—where are the world’s most affluent travelers heading next?
The good news is Virtuoso, a leading global network that specializes in luxury travel and experiential travel has your answer. The company has just released its latest data analysis, which is based on some $63.6 billion in travel transactions in its network. The findings reveal the top destinations on luxury travelers’ agendas for 2023, as well as some of the planet’s so-called “secret vacation spots.”
First, let’s look at the most popular destination for spring travel, based on Virtuoso’s future bookings. Topping the list, is none other than the United States, followed by the perennially popular Italy in the number two slot. Rounding out the top five are France, Mexico, and Spain.
Also among the top 10 are the Bahamas in the number six slot, followed by the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, and Portugal—in that order.
“While some are choosing to stay close to home, others are voyaging to the longtime favorites in Europe and the U.K. ahead of summer crowds,” says the new report. “Those opting for sun are planning getaways to international warm weather destinations like the Bahamas and Mexico.”
The fact that Japan made the top 10 is no surprise either, according to the experts at Virtuoso, given that borders to that country remained closed for more than two years and have recently reopened. Travelers are now eager to visit Japan once again.
“Tourist spots are packed, restaurant reservations at some of the country’s top restaurants are hard to come by, and hotel availability is scarce through the fall,” says the report.
Secret spots around the world
Even more intriguingly, the new Virtuoso study reveals the “secret vacation spots to visit next,” which is culled from travel advisor intel based on future bookings. First up is Todos Santos, Mexico.
Located just north of the trendy, celebrity favorite Cabo San Lucas, the enclave of Todos Santos attracts artists and surfers, according to Virtuoso. With 350 days of sunshine annually, you’re pretty much guaranteed perfect vacation weather.
Zach Rabinor, founder and CEO of Journey Mexico, calls the destination an “untouched spot” that’s “a magnet for those wishing to escape the crowds.” Need more reasons to visit? Rabinor describes Todos Santos is an “enchanting town with a slower, more community-centered place.”
Maremma, Italy is another so-called secret spot being booked by Virtuoso clients. Perched at the southern end of Tuscany, it’s a region known for soft sands framed by pine groves. And it’s a corner of Italy that is known mostly by locals.
“The proximity of the countryside and sea creates plenty of opportunities for a truly immersive Italian experience,” says Simone Amorico, co-owner of Access Italy, a Virtuoso network member.
And for those who tuned into the blockbuster Netflix hit White Lotus, think of Maremma as an alternative to Sicily, which is now overrun thanks to the show filming its second season in the popular Italian region.
There are a few additional secret spots to put on your list as well, according to the Virtuoso intel. Among them, are Namibia and South Africa. Namibia is a destination known for its contrasting landscapes, including deep orange sand dunes that tower 1,000 feet high, as well as petrified forests that rise from the middle of the desert. And not to be overlooked, there’s the stunning Namibian coastline that appears like a mirage from all of those desert sand dunes.
“Its beauty is completely different than East Africa’s—a real sense of timelessness suffuses the whole region—the vastness is completely otherworldly,” says Eleanor Flager Hardey, a Virtuoso agency executive.
And one final stop on this round-the-world tour of secret spots to make note of—Tohoku, Japan. Virtuoso’s experts say here you’ll find a region that’s home to unspoiled rural landscapes and historical treasures. It’s part of the country that has remained untouched, and as a result, is free from the neon-lit arcades and bustling food markets. During winter in Tohoku, you’ll find endless powder now, anywhere from 300 to 600 inches annually.
“The hustle and bustle of modern Japan is a must-see for first-timers, but in Tohoku, travelers can relax and take in the traditions and nature of old Japan,” says Reeka Ninomiya, a Virtuoso advisor.
Nature and traditions of old Japan….Let’s all say it together, shall we? Yes, please.
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