The arrival of a fresh new year opens the door to endless travel possibilities. What’s hot for 2023 and where are clients ahead? OFFSHORE caught up with multiple travel industry professionals to get the inside scoop on what’s selling and what’s popular.
Tauck’s chief operating officer Jeremy Palmer sees a “continued rebound in travel as we move further past Covid.”
Not only will more people be “coming off the sidelines,” he believes that many who travelled in 2022 will be travelling again in the coming year.
“Europe is a traditional hot spot and it continues to do very well — despite some concerns about the Ukraine war in the eastern areas of Western Europe,” Palmer tells Travel Courier. “Within Europe we’re seeing great interest in both Ireland and Switzerland. Farther afield, our bookings to Japan are very strong, reflecting three years of pent-up demand there.”
For the time being, he says concerns about the economy haven’t had much of an impact on bookings across the North American market.
“People are largely setting aside any financial worries and they’re booking their upcoming trips with real excitement and enthusiasm,” he adds.
European destinations are also boding well for luxury travel advisor Kemi Wells, the founder and president of Wells Luxury Travel.
“Portugal continues to be a hot spot and great value for Europe,” she notes. “Croatia and Greece are still hotspots.”
Along with a lot of interest for Dubai, New Zealand and Scotland, Wells reports that expedition cruises are also strong.
“The other big one is Africa for safari,” she shares. “I have younger clients and families prioritizing wanting to make this happen.”
Overall, she’s cautiously optimistic about the year ahead.
“I know there are fears of the recession and we are all feeling the inflation, however, in the ultra-luxury space that my team and I work in, I feel like this bracket of clientele are not holding back and still are spending and are planning to spend in 2023 on these memorable trips,” she says. “Clients are not hesitating to pay our professional planning fees either, we now charge $125 an hour.”
As a whole, Jeff Roy, Collette’s executive vice president of revenue management and pricing, points to Europe for representing the tour operator’s highest volume of travel.
Some of the hottest itineraries for the year are: Greece Island Hopper, Italy’s Amalfi Coast to Puglia, Sicily and Its Isles/Old World Sicily & Malta, Discover Tuscany and Irish Splendour.”
Notably, Roy says tours in Costa Rica and the Canadian Rockies & Glacier National Park option are also doing well.
“Aside from Europe, we’ve seen travellers head to explore Africa,” he notes. “Our Colours of Morocco and Exploring South Africa, Victoria Falls, & Botswana Small Group Explorations tours have been specifically popular there.”
From Antarctica and Central America to the Galapagos and Hawaii, Bruce Fougner, the president of Lloyds Travel, says adventure travel destinations and expedition cruises are coming in hot. Active land itineraries like trekking the Camino de Santiago in Spainare also doing well. Notably, he says clients are no longer putting of bucket list trips.
“The time may be limited to travel to small bucket list destinations where crowds are currently not as regulated — Angkor Wat, Petra and the Serengeti come to mind — and places that either require a permit or are controlled such as Machu Picchu, Egyptian Ruins, and visits to the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda, will soon become even more difficult to access and will require serious advance planning,” adds Fougner.
For clients looking to get away from the crowds, he suggest booking in the off season.
“Or look to countries farther afield, in Europe… look to Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania and Latviafor amazing value,” he says. “For those looking for a beach and adventure vacation, Costa Rica offers much better value than Hawaii; Porto over Paris for great dining and culture; Hanoi instead of Bangkok and Split Croatia instead of Rome.”
Meanwhile, Darci Murray of Personal Travel Management, is seeing demand across destinations that allow travellers to step back in time.
“Morocco is really popular. Admiring the methodical process of making rugs… the tanneries and the traditional tea services that take place. Hearing the mosque bells and the sound of prayer,” she says. “Jordan, Turkey and Tanzania are also popular destinations.”