Virtuoso’s Travel Week Highlights New Luxury Travel Trends

bellagio las vegasEarlier this month in Las Vegas, leading luxury travel agency Virtuoso conducted the largest meeting of luxury brands in the travel industry, Virtuoso Travel Week.

While we sadly were stuck on the East Coast for this event, we kept close tabs on the “meetings of the minds” out West and were intrigued by what emerged as conference trends.

Bhutan: A Bucket List Destination
Closed to outsiders for centuries, the Kingdom of Bhutan recently emerged as a “must” on savvy travelers’ bucket lists. The first country in the world to measure its success by the “Gross National Happiness” of its citizens, Bhutan attracts travelers with a social conscience and those seeking a spiritual journey like none other.

Cruising: Not Just For Oceans
River cruising is poised to continue growth in the luxury travel market, particularly as disasters and discontent with larger ocean-going cruise lines continue to make waves in national headlines. These typically smaller ships are able to offer a higher-level of service and see areas that big ships can’t reach.

Ecuador: A Hot Spot In South America
Offering something for everyone, Ecuador boasts a beach culture along the Pacific Ocean, the mountainous Andes, exotic Amazon and, of course, the gateway to the Galapagos Islands (a short 1 hour, 35 minute-flight). Announcing its new tourism concept called “Conscious Tourism,” Ecuador is the first nation in the world to include the Rights of Nature in its constitution, and the country will forgo some 846 million barrels of heavy crude reserves to protect the biological diversity and indigenous people of the Yasuni National Park, in turn becoming the first developing country to propose an effective, quantifiable and verifiable carbon abatement model. Now it will be easier to visit Ecuador, as the country is the first in South America to use the U.S. Dollar as its national currency, it shares a time zone with the U.S. minimizing jetlag, and soon will open a state-of-the-art international airport to welcome visitors from around the world.

Luxury Travel Thrives: Travelers Help Market Bounce Back
Virtuoso says an outcome of the financial crisis is the changing consumer mindset, where uncertainty has created a greater desire for stronger personal connections and enriching experiences, both of which can be achieved through travel. Virtuoso points to its network’s 51 percent increase in production since 2009 at the height of the U.S., and subsequent global, economic recession as proof that the industry is thriving. Since early 2010, the travel community has contributed to 7.2 percent of overall job growth, outpacing the growth of the rest of the economy in employment recovery.