Here are six of the hottest destinations your clients are hearing about, talking about and ready to visit. And if they’re not, now’s the time to start the selling process!
Why It’s Hot: Luxury cruise travel is coming of age in the Galapagos. Silversea’s elegant Silver Galapagos first raised the bar with balconies, marble-accented staterooms and butler service. The line will up the ante in the summer of 2020 with the new Silver Origin.
The ship will feature three lounges, interactive digital walls, Horizon Balconies that can be enclosed plus ocean-view tubs and showers. And debuting this month is the purpose-built Celebrity Flora, featuring suites as large as 1,288 square feet, menus from a Michelin-starred chef and a glamping option.
Who Goes There: “Anyone who’s taken high school science knows about Darwin,” said Mark Conroy, managing director, the Americas, for Silversea Cruises. “They might not know where the Galapagos is, but they know they want to get there someday.” For frequent cruisers, the Galapagos Islands (which are in the Pacific off the coast of Ecuador) are an aspirational destination.
Sales Advice: If clients are on the fence about going the luxury route, emphasize that more than mere pampering is at stake. Guides can make or break a cruise, and luxury lines scoop up the best.
Luxury lines also feature sophisticated gadgetry, such as underwater cameras and listening devices; glass-bottom Zodiacs; and other trip-enhancing amenities. And many luxury lines include intra-Ecuador air, transfers, complimentary pre-cruise hotel stays and entry fees (not to mention free-flowing spirits) in the cruise price.
Why It’s Hot: Cruise ships large and small are increasingly calling on the land of fire and ice. With an ancient Nordic culture and landscape of glaciers, fjords, geothermal activity, waterfalls and volcanic formations, Iceland is otherworldly but welcoming.
Who Goes There: Clients looking to combine a mainstream cruise experience with an expedition-type destination. Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Royal Caribbean International feature Iceland on Northern European itineraries.
“Celebrity offers a unique Ireland-to-Iceland itinerary, and Oceania will do an extended transatlantic journey in the fall that passes through Iceland,” said Kimberly Coyne, head of sales for Cruiseline.com. Viking Ocean Cruises, Seabourn and Ponant make Iceland calls, while Windstar Cruises offers a circumnavigation option.
Sales Advice: Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital, home to a bustling arts and culinary scene. It’s also the gateway to natural wonders such as the famous Blue Lagoon. Other cruise ports include Akureyri, the “Capital of the North,” on the shores of Iceland’s longest fjord, Eyjafjordur. And Isafjordur in northwest Iceland is a fishing center surrounded by stunning fjords.
Why It’s Hot: Japan is unlike anywhere else in the world. “Its unique charm comes from its ability to offer something to each and every type of traveler,” said Leanne Greentree, G Adventures product manager. “Japan has it all,” she added, from manicured gardens, temples, shrines and the breathtaking beauty of some of the less-traveled rural areas, to big cities, shopping, nightlife, art and one of the world’s most enviable food scenes.
Who Goes There: Nearly any kind of traveler will enjoy Japan, as it offers something for every taste and budget, but especially foodies and urban travelers who love the hustle and bustle of modern cities.
Sales Advice: Recommend that clients visit in fall or winter, Greentree suggested. Temperatures soar in summer, and temples and gardens are packed with tourists in the spring.
Why It’s Hot: The Republic of the Maldives is a sovereign archipelagic nation in the Indian Ocean distinguished by dazzling coral reefs, turquoise waters and white-sand beaches. It features 5-star resorts with overwater villa accommodations. Hotel options include brands like Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott, which are popular with U.S. travelers.
“The Maldives is a hot destination for our Millennials and for our very well-seasoned travelers,” said Jennifer Doncsecz of VIP Vacations. “The Maldives has been rising in popularity over the last few years, but overall, travel to an exotic destination is key.”
Who Goes There: Honeymooners, Millennial travelers, adventure travelers, sun-and-fun seekers.
Sales Advice: “My advice to travel advisors is to truly learn everything you can about exotic destinations, which have incredible specialist programs and offer great incentives to visit the destination on a fam or at an agent rate,” Doncsecz said. Also, there are opportunities for agencies to be listed on the visitmaldives.com website to attract new business.
St. Kitts and Nevis
Why It’s Hot: St. Kitts blends diverse sun-and-fun activities with a fascinating history and exciting nightlife. Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The St. Kitts Scenic Railway, built between 1912 and 1926 to carry sugar cane from plantations to the sugar factory in the capital of Basseterre, takes visitors on a 30-mile, three-hour circumnavigation of the island.
The smaller half of the dual-island Caribbean nation, 36-square-mile Nevis, is home to 3,232-foot Mount Nevis, a dormant volcano that feeds local hot springs. The island has long, splendid stretches of near-empty beach and lush hills dotted with ruins of colonial plantations.
Who Goes There: Families, destination wedding travelers, couples, adventure travelers, luxury travelers and veteran Caribbean vacationers seeking something different.
Sales Advice: The St. Kitts Eco-Park and Kittitian Hill development have become very popular for weddings, said Brenda O’Neale of With This Ring Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Travel Agency. Also in St. Kitts, “the strip in Frigate Bay is a great place to hang out on the weekends with locals,” she said. “Great music and food provide for an awesome experience.”
stkittstourism.kn ; nevisisland.com
Why It’s Hot: Recently named Lonely Planet’s top country to visit in 2019, Sri Lanka is becoming “the next bucket list destination” as the country continues to allow travel in once restricted areas years after the civil war, according to Darshika Jones, regional director for North America at Intrepid Travel.
The less-visited Southeast Asia island has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, abundant white-sand beaches and influences of Indian and other Asian cuisines and cultures.
Who Goes There: Sri Lanka visitors tend to be more experienced travelers who have enjoyed the tropics and beaches of the Americas and “are ready for something further and more adventurous,” said Jackie Garrity, product and operations partnership manager at G Adventures.
It’s ideal for the nature lover and ocean lover, and suitable for curious young travelers as well as the “more experienced ones who are young of mind.”
Sales Advice: Intrepid Travel offers 12 unique itineraries in Sri Lanka perfect for families, food lovers, cyclists and wildlife watchers, all carbon offset and locally operated. G Adventures’ Garrity noted that northern Sri Lanka in particular offers a fascinating history and “a very different cultural experience.” The people there are predominantly Tamil and Hindu, whereas the rest of the country has a Sinhalese Buddhist majority.
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