Affluent Travelers Love Europe, But Africa's on the Rise

August 9, 2016
Jared Kaltwasser

A new report looks at travel trends among affluent tourists from the US and Canada. It finds Europe remains the favored destination.

When it comes to travel, the affluent prefer to spend their time in Europe.

That’s the finding of a new report from Virtuoso, an international travel agency network specializing in luxury travel. The company analyzed $35 billion worth of travel transactions to come up with a list of travel trends and top destinations.

The company says Europe will be the favorite destination for affluent travelers this fall and winter, with Italy, France, and the United Kingdom filling the top three spots, respectively.

Virtuoso says rates at its partner hotels are down from summer peak rates. In Barcelona, travelers will save 15% by traveling this fall or winter; in London, prices are down 7% from the summer.

Rounding out the Top 10 destinations are South Africa, Spain, Mexico, China, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel. Virtuoso noted that Zika fears don’t seem to have had an effect on rates of travel to Mexico. Israel, too, is seeing normal business even amid growing tension in the middle east.

“(Israel) is a sought-out destination not only for its religious significance, but also for its history, food, culture, and adventure experiences,” according to a Virtuoso press release.

If Europe is a mainstay atop travelers’ wish lists, Virtuoso says Africa is the up-and-comer to watch. Bookings to Kenya are up 59% versus last year. South Africa’s bookings are up 28%, and Tanzania is seeking a surge of 27% versus 2015. All three countries are on Virtuoso’s “Hot 10” list of trending travel destinations.

Overall, the destinations with the biggest increases in bookings are: South Africa (59%), Iceland (56%), Saint Martin (39%), China (35%), and Ecuador (34%).

“According to Virtuoso’s travel advisors, safaris are particularly appealing for multigenerational family trips, with plenty to see and enjoy for travelers of all ages,” the company said. “Iceland has been a growing favorite in recent years, and its prominent showing on the Hot 10 proves that its popularity is extending into the fall.”

The findings are based on international travel, so it does not include travel within the US or Canada.