Europe, according to tour operator experts, may be seeing a generation shift in leisure travel demand. Increased interest in emerging destinations and cities with more unique cultures is shifting how people are vacationing this summer and into the future.
Among North American destinations, however, booking trends remain fairly standard. Tour operators and North American vacation package sellers told Skift that established markets are performing well in 2016 despite the U.S. dollar’s strength against the Euro and the influx of travelers looking to do something new on vacation.
Orlando, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Las Vegas widely remain the most popular destinations this summer. New resorts are drawing repeat visitors back to traditional destinations, and these new experiences have resonated with travelers.
The Caribbean, in particular, is seeing a resurgence in international visitation due to new resorts finally opening their doors and the continued strength of the cruise industry in the region.
“There’s a tremendous amount of investment being made in [Caribbean] resort areas,” said Ray Snisky, executive vice president at La Macchia Enterprises, parent company of The Mark Travel Company, which sells a variety of tour brands include Southwest Vacations, United Vacations, and Funjet Vacations. “We’re seeing the benefit of all the investments. A lot of money is pouring into these destinations and that creates great demand.”
In the Caribbean and Mexico, all-inclusive resorts are beginning to become more popular in the luxury market, instead of merely acting as a potential choice for more cost-conscious travelers.
“Over the last year, Travel Impressions has seen a larger shift toward luxury all-inclusive getaways,” said Greg Bernd, vice president of sales for Travel Impressions, which sells packaged vacations. “While the draw of the all-inclusive resort has not changed, many travelers are opting for higher-end service and amenities at higher price points than in years past. Value is still a big factor, but in general consumers are willing to spend more to get the vacation they ‘deserve.’ Guests are less willing to sacrifice amenities for lower price points then they were in years past.”
New theme park attractions in Orlando, the result of continued investment from attractions companies, have also proved a source of strong interest for vacationers in North America.
“We continue to see a strong demand for Orlando, there’s so much new in that destination and all the theme parks there continue to invest,” said John Ische, CEO and president of Trisept Solutions, a travel selling technology provider. “Vegas has recovered. The U.S. outbound continues to be very strong against the euro currency, the dollar continues to be a good value. Overall, leisure vacation sellers have had a strong year.”
Las Vegas has bounced back and prices are high, partially the result of increased meetings visitation to the destination. But international travelers are also flocking to the city; Tourico Holidays’ new data mining division crunched its numbers to find that Chinese travel to Las Vegas, for instance, is expected to increase three times from 2016 to 2017.
The rapid growth in low-cost and ultra-low-cost carrier service from Europe to the U.S. is also making it cheaper for cost-conscious Europeans to visit top North American destinations, and that access will likely increase going forward.
“There is a new influx of some international low-cost carriers starting to make their way into the U.S.; that competition still bodes well,” said Snisky. “Norwegian, by most estimates the largest low-cost carrier in the world, announced they’re going to fly Las Vegas to London, so you’re going to see some more entrants to the Mexico and Caribbean markets. The airlines that are here, like Southwest, United and Delta, [are going to diversify their products as well].”