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Where They Went: Survey Analyzes the Top Travel Trends for 2019

Alaska sailings topped the domestic booking charts ... again

Travel Leaders Group, one of North America’s largest travel agency companies, has put its finger on the pulse of travel with its 2019-2020 travel trends survey conducted among more than 400 Travel Leaders Group advisors.

To that end, for the third year in a row, cruising through Alaska earned the top spot as the most desired and booked domestic vacation in 2019, with Orlando not too far behind. Las Vegas, New York City and Honolulu rounded out the Top 5. Internationally, Caribbean cruises and Cancun, Mexico, respectively, maintained the top two spots, while Italy jumped from fifth to third place. European river cruises and Mediterranean cruises were fourth and fifth, respectively.

“Cruising, whether it’s to Alaska, to the Caribbean or a European cruise in the Mediterranean, is a perennial favorite among North Americans,” said Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. “With so many new ships coming on board, we’re seeing strong growth and demand for luxury river cruises that allow you to explore smaller cities along rivers such as the Danube.”

According to the survey, more than half (56%) of travel agents foresee booking a luxury river cruise in 2020.

Approximately 32 million passengers are expected to set sail in 2020, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). To meet ongoing demand, cruise lines are scheduled to debut 19 new ocean ships in the upcoming year.

“Women only” trips saw the most growth in Travel Leaders Group bookings compared to last year, earning fifth place on the list of top niche travel areas. Top “up and coming” destinations for 2020, according to travel advisors, include Bora Bora, Thailand, Ecuador – Galapagos Island and Croatia. Year over year, the Maldives, Bora Bora, Galapagos and Croatia moved up the list.

Below are the top destinations and niche travel findings:

Top U.S. Destinations

1.       Alaska – cruise (38%)

2.      Orlando, FL (32%)

3.      Las Vegas, NV (26%)

4.     New York City, NY (22%)

5.      Honolulu, HI (21%)

Top International Destinations

1.       Caribbean/Mexican Gulf Coast – cruise (31%)

2.      Cancun, Mexico (27%)

3.      Italy (25%)

4.      Europe – River cruise (21%)

5.      Europe – Mediterranean cruise (19%)

Top Niche Travel Areas

1.       Active/Adventure (45%)

2.      Honeymoon & Destination Weddings (36%)

3.      Culinary & Wine (35%)

4.      Affinity Groups (20%)

5.      Women’s Only (19%)

Top Up-and-Coming International Destinations for 2020:

Pacific Region

1.       Bora Bora (30%)

2.      Tahiti (27%)

3.      Fiji (22%)

4.      Moorea (5%)

5.      Cook Islands (4%)

Asia/South East Asia

1.       Thailand (24%)

2.      Maldives (17%)

3.      Vietnam (16%)

4.      Singapore (9%)

5.      Philippines (5%)

Central/South America

1.       Ecuador— Galapagos Island (19%)

2.      Peru (18%)

3.      Brazil (17%)

4.      Panama (13%)

5.      Argentina (9%)


1.       Croatia (26%)

2.      Iceland (23%)

3.      Portugal (14%)

4.      Scotland (10%)

5.      Netherlands (7%)

Other Key Findings

Most travelers using an agent are booking 6-7 day trips (43%) followed by 8-10 day trips (27%) and 4-5 day trips (15%).

According to the survey, travelers are planning on spending more or significantly more money on travel in 2020 (57%). The majority (54%) said clients have also expressed interest in using credit card rewards points to pay for all or part of their travel.

While parents traveling with small children (26%) remains a top family travel trend, travel advisors have reported growth in adult children traveling with their parents (26%) as well as grandparents traveling with grandchildren (24%) over the past three years. In addition, 41% have also reported a slight increase in the number of bookings for multi-generational family vacations.

Most desired amenities/features that families are seeking when booking vacation travel are:

1. Non-stop flights (75%)

2. Adjoining rooms or multi-room units/accommodations (61%)

3. Proximity to major attractions or sightseeing locations (52%)

4. Free breakfast (47%)

5. Children’s programs (33%)