PHOTO: Iceland, Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon during a night with aurora borealis seen from East Beach. (photo via Flickr/Moyan Brenn)
Families are increasingly seeking out-of-the-ordinary destinations for vacations, according to Virtuoso’s 2017 Luxe Report.
More than 770 advisors from the luxury network’s travel agency partners in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the Middle East were surveyed for the Luxe Report.
The polar regions of Iceland, Antarctica, and the Arctic head the list of off-the-beaten-track family destinations given the threat of climate change, said Virtuoso. The United Nations has declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, making green travel particularly relevant now.
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Related to that trend, experiences involving wildlife conservation are top-of-mind for travelers, with Africa and the Galapagos Islands capturing top spots in the report. In addition, the strong dollar coupled with the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution has also triggered a renewed interest in visiting that country.
Cultural immersion also remains one of the leading travel trends, driving families to Cuba before development changes the face of that country.
Trips that are two weeks or longer are experiencing increased demand, with families traveling to far-flung Asian countries including India, Japan, and Vietnam.
The Top 10 Unconventional Family Destinations, according to the report, are:
5. Galapagos Islands
6. The Arctic
The top Hottest Family Destinations are:
8.Turks and Caicos
Virtuoso also identified what it calls the “New Destination Disruptors” as Gen Z travelers. Made up of young people born late in the 1990s to 2010s, this generation has considerable influence over their families’ travel decisions, according to 88 percent of Virtuoso advisors polled.
Citing Digital Tourism Think Tank as its source, Virtuoso said that by 2020, Gen Z will account for 40 percent of all consumers with disposable income to travel.
Gen Z is well traveled from an early age and globally minded, and therefore interested in offbeat destinations with exhilarating adventures like diving the Great Barrier Reef and kayaking among icebergs in Greenland, Virtuoso said.
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This generation has been hyperconnected to the internet since birth and, like its predecessors, places great emphasis on visual storytelling. Sharing one-of-a kind travel moments with friends on social media is today’s postcard.
In general, Virtuoso called 2017 a banner year for American travelers heading overseas.
With the dollar at nearly at a one-to-one ratio with the euro - the first time in more than a decade - a trip to Europe is now more affordable, it said. Ripple effects from Brexit linger as a weakened British pound drives luxury hotel rates down 14 percent compared to last year, all leading to increased demand for England.
Florida and Hawaii are holding their place as popular destinations for families, while Zika-impacted areas, including the Caribbean and Mexico, are rebounding this season with hotels seeing a big uptick in reservations.
As adventure travel continues to trend, active experiences in Australia, South Africa, and Costa Rica are also seeing increased interest from travelers, said Virtuoso.