Canadian travellers are increasingly comfortable venturing further abroad, demonstrating a committed sense of adventure and urgency for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in far-flung locations, according to the 2024 Virtuoso Luxe Report, shared Wednesday (Nov. 8).
Luxury network Virtuoso surveyed its travel agency members to predict what lies ahead in the coming year.
While the global survey spans more than 50 countries, Virtuoso was able to zero in on traveller preferences within Canada.
With the value of time – and the significance of how and with whom we spend it – now a focal point for many, Virtuoso travel advisors report their clients are more interested than ever in fulfilling their travel aspirations.
Despite inflation and global unrest, they remain insatiably curious and willing to pay for new experiences, Virtuoso says.
More than 46 per cent of advisors surveyed expect an increase in travel demand and almost 60 per cent anticipate an increase in spend per trip in 2024.
5 key trends
The Luxe Report identified five key trends highlighting how upscale globetrotters are establishing their influence in the travel-sphere for 2024.
New Frontiers: Although many continue to find comfort in their past favourites, other experienced travellers are diverging from the usual European options and branching out to exotic locales and less-explored areas.
Driven by the desire to visit a place dreamed of during the pandemic, an under-the-radar location recommended by an advisor or even the ambition of being “first” to a destination, luxury travellers are intrigued by the unexplored.
The cultural richness of reemerging travel hotspots, such as Japan and Iceland, offer unique and exciting itineraries for those seeking a departure from the norm.
The Party Continues: Post-pandemic travel saw many delayed celebrations realized, and the festivities continue with celebration travel topping the list of travel motivations for 2024.
Canadians are sharing life’s most important moments with family – both travel with immediate family and multigenerational travel appear on the trends list, says Virtuoso.
Whether commemorating a milestone or simply spending quality time together, travel remains an essential part of connecting with loved ones.
Honouring the Earth: Extreme weather has shaped a traveller who is hyper-aware of the fragility of the world and eager to honour its majesty.
Virtuoso advisors say their clients are pushing geographical boundaries to witness nature in its pristine form for fear it will diminish or become inaccessible.
Greece, Morocco and Hawaii are also top-of-mind for travellers who want to support the economy of destinations recently impacted by disaster while remaining respectful of their recovery, Virtuoso says.
Small Ships, Big Possibilities: With less crowded, more intimate settings in favour, small-vessel cruising is on the rise with new and experienced cruisers alike.
Upscale voyagers in search of a more authentic experience are favouring river cruises for the casual atmosphere, proximity to major cities and wide-ranging itineraries. Popular routes include the Danube River, the Mekong River and the Nile, Virtuoso says.
Adventure cruising is also trending due to prevailing interest in Alaska and increased accessibility to Antarctica, 2024’s leading adventure destination, the company says.
At Ease: Lingering restrictions, frustrating shortages and turbulent air travel have led to increased demand for custom trips made easy.
From exclusive-use experiences – private jets, yachts and villas – to booking half days at hotels to ensure they have accommodations that fit their needs, today’s traveller is maximizing comfort, Virtuoso says.
Italy remains the global favourite destination, whether for families or honeymooners. But it’s not simply back to basics for luxury travellers.
Croatia and Portugal are the new European favourites for those looking to avoid crowds in Italy and Greece.
One of the last countries to open its borders to the outside world, Japan, with its refined culture and in-demand cuisine, heads the list of reemerging destinations, Virtuoso says.
Escape from inclement weather remains a top travel motivator for Canadians, especially families, who are booking warm-weather getaways in the Dominican Republic, Hawaii and Costa Rica.
Due to elevated interest in the upcoming Paris Olympics, as well as its status as a beloved destination among foodies and art connoisseurs, France ascended into the top five in two categories.
Adventure seekers are drawn to the enchantment of the northern lights and the unspoiled splendour of Iceland, Alaska and Antarctica.
Virtuoso's key findings
Top Travel Trends Top Remerging Destinations
1. Adventure cruising 1. Japan
2. Family travel (immediate family) 2. Portugal
3. Authenticity 3. Croatia
4. Multigenerational travel 4. Iceland
5. Active/adventure trips 5. Egypt
Top Global Destinations Top Cities
1. Italy 1. Paris
2. Greece 2. Barcelona
3. France 3. Lisbon
4. Australia 4. London
5. England 5. Rome
Top Family Travel Destinations Top Adventure Destinations
1. Dominican Republic 1. Antarctica
2. Hawaii 2. Alaska
3. Costa Rica 3. Iceland
4. Mexico 4. Galápagos Islands
5. Italy 5. Costa Rica
Top Honeymoon Destinations Top Cruise Itineraries
1. French Polynesia 1. Mediterranean
2. Greece 2. Alaska
3. Italy 3. Danube River
4. Bali 4. Caribbean
5. Maldives 5. Greek Isles
Top Aspects of Sustainable Tourism Top Travel Motivations
1. Wildlife conservation/interaction 1. Celebrating a milestone
2. Avoiding over-touristed destinations 2. Excitement of discovering new destinations
3. Giving back to/supporting local communities 3. Crossing off Wanderlist locations/experiences
4. Booking with companies that employ locals 4. Escaping foul weather
5. Booking with companies with ethical standards 5. Spending time with loved ones
More than 2,000 travel advisors from Virtuoso-affiliated agencies in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the Middle East took the Luxe Report survey.