Croatia is the top up-and-coming destination in Europe, according a recent TravelLeaders survey. Harbor and promenade, Split town, Croatia // (c) 2013 Thinkstock
Travelers will be spending the same or more on travel in 2013 as compared to last year, according to the results of the annual Travel Trends Survey conducted by Travel Leaders Group. The study indicates that much of that travel spending is being driven by travel to Europe, including European cruising.
Three of the top five international destinations and half of the top ten international destinations are European. Demand is also increasing, as more than 82 percent of the surveyed travel agents indicate that bookings are on par or greater than this time one year ago.
This survey, based on actual booking data, was conducted by Travel Leaders Group between Nov. 19 and Dec. 16, 2012, and includes responses from 1,045 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents from the flagship Travel Leaders brand, along with those affiliated with Travel Leaders Group's Luxury Travel Network, Nexion, Results! Travel, Travel Leaders Corporate, Tzell Travel Group and Vacation.com units.
"Already, 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."
"The continued uptick in travel spending year-over-year - and the fact that more than 82 percent of agents state the number of bookings are the same or higher than last year at this time - 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."
Some findings from this year's Travel Leaders Group Travel Trends Survey include:
Based on current bookings to date for 2013 and conversations with clients, more than 92 percent of Travel Leaders Group agents surveyed say clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2013 (53.1 percent say clients will spend more, while 39.1 percent 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.
Up and Coming Destinations
When asked for their expert findings, Travel Leaders Group agents nationally indicate that 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 percent)
Turkey (12.9 percent)
Czech Republic (12.2 percent)
Portugal (10.9 percent)
Iceland (9.87 percent)
Pacific "Up and Coming"
New Zealand (27.8 percent)
Fiji (13.6 percent)
Tahiti (13.0 percent)
Bora Bora (12.8 percent)
Australia - South Australia (5.4 percent)
Asia/Southeast Asia "Up and Coming"
Vietnam (48.3 percent)
Indonesia (7.6 percent)
Burma/Myanmar (7.2 percent)
Cambodia (7.2 percent)
Malaysia (6.8 percent)
Central/South America "Up and Coming"
Ecuador and Galapagos Islands (18.2 percent)
Panama (17.5 percent)
Peru (17.1 percent)
Brazil (16.8 percent)
Argentina (10.5 percent)
Based on actual 2013 bookings, the following lists display the top international and domestic destinations for 2013.
Top Int'l Destinations
Cruise - Caribbean 52.3 percent
Cancun, Mexico 42.4 percent
Cruise-Europe (Mediterranean) 28.7 percent
Rome, Italy 25.7 percent
London, England 24.4 percent
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 24.1 percent
Playa del Carmen/Riviera Maya, Mexico 18.0 percent
Cruise-Europe (River) 17.5 percent
Montego Bay, Jamaica 16.6 percent
Paris, France 16.6 percent
Florence and/or Tuscany,
Italy 9.6 percent Negril,
Jamaica 8.9 percent
Barcelona, Spain 8.4 percent
Cruise-Mexico 7.9 percent
Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos, Mexico 7.5 percent
Top Domestic Destinations
Orlando, FL 44.7 percent
Las Vegas, NV 44.1 percent
Cruise - Alaska 40.0 percent
Maui, HI 40.0 percent
New York City, NY 32.2 percent
Honolulu, HI 27.3 percent
San Francisco, CA 14.8 percent
Washington, D.C. 13.6 percent
Chicago, IL 13.4 percent
Los Angeles, CA 11.5 percent
Fort Lauderdale, FL 10.5 percent
Cruise - Hawaii 9.9 percent
Miami/Miami Beach, FL 9.5 percent
U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix) 9.1 percent
Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ 8.8 percent
Top Cruise Destinations
Caribbean - Western 20.5 percent
Alaska 20.3 percent
Caribbean - Eastern 18.7 percent
Europe - River Cruise 13.3 percent
Europe - Mediterranean 10.8 percent