Impressive growth in luxury travel worldwide is expected to last at least until 2026, predict experts from the international luxury travel network Virtuoso, which includes more than 20,000 consultants across 50 countries.
According to figures reported at the 34th annual meeting of its partners, Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas, global sales of Virtuosa increased by 102% between January and July 2022 compared to the same period in 2019. In addition, sales for 2023 are 47% higher compared to 2019 – a record year for Virtuoso also.
Speaking at the event, Virtuoso's head of global PR, Misty Belles, said Tourism Economics estimates that by the second quarter of 2024, global leisure spending will exceed 2019 levels by 21%, with forecast spending by 2026 expected to increase by 55% compared to 2019.
"If we look beyond 2023," she said, "we can see signs that growth is continuing and accelerating, and so while we say 2023 could be a great year, just looking at 2024 and 2025 we can appreciate that the continuation will be better."
According to Ms Belles, the upward trend is due to excessive savings and increased wealth among affluent travellers. The rich accumulated wealth during the pandemic and consequently want to spend it on travel.
According to data, Virtuoso travellers plan to increase travel spending by 34% next year (from $20,700 per person to $27,800). Nearly 75% said that having a travel experience that best matches their expectations is more important than price.
As Ms Belles pointed out, younger, affluent travellers are "driving" the recovery, with the 18-34 age group taking an average of 2.2 more international trips than the 65+ age group.
This age group is also looking for "exclusive, incredible trips of a lifetime", according to Ms Belles, with brands such as Virgin Galactic and White Desert emerging as the most popular.
Virtuoso experts also reported a rise in solo travel after the pandemic. The network saw a 10% shift from consumers travelling with friends to solo travel, with the highest level of interest coming from the 65+ age group.
Environmentally friendly practices and preservation of natural and cultural heritage are also top priorities, especially among Gen Z and Millennials. According to the data, 56% of Gen Z and 46% of Millennials are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly practices, and 58% of Gen Z and 52% of Millennials are willing to pay more for travel that preserves natural and cultural heritage.
Ms Belles further pointed out that the data suggests we are in a "new travel landscape" rather than a "travel bubble".
Speaking at the launch of Virtuoso Travel Week, David Colner, the network's senior vice president of strategy, said 2023 is poised to be a record year for travel.