Report Also Lists Top Six Trends for 2019: The U.S. has taken top spot in upscale tour operator Titan Travel’s first travel trends report on the escorted touring and cruise holiday market. The operator’s list of top escorted touring destinations, which is based on bookings for 2019, as Titan—it is a SAGA company—seeks to increase its profile as one as one of the largest specialists in the upscale sector.
The report, which is to be produced annually and distributed to agents and consumers, has the U.S. replacing last year’s favorite, Italy, at the top of the list, followed by Italy, Canada, India and South Africa in the top five. For the past few years, Italy has been Titan’s most popular destination out of the more than 60 it offers.
Said Andy Squirrell, managing director of Titan, “This report takes a close-up look at the market for 2019 (and beyond). We combed through reams of data, picked the brains of our expert product team and spoke with the big names at the heart of the escorted touring industry.”
Here are Titan’s Top 10 Destinations for 2019
In explaining how the USA came to be its top destination, the Titan report said this: “The exchange rate has not changed and prices have not come down dramatically, but after a steady few years, the USA is seeing a real spike in demand. While Titan’s ‘California and the Golden West’ itinerary – one of the operator’s longest running tours – has historically always been the operator’s most popular USA tour, increased interest for the southern states has seen them overtake the west coast for the first time. a Historically, travelers have got their Italy fix by ticking off the main cities—Rome, Florence, Venice. Now, we’re seeing more demand for those smaller picture-perfect Italian and Sicilian towns, particularly Lake Orta, which is the smallest – and perhaps prettiest – of the Italian Lakes … a Southern Sights and Sounds’ is by far our most popular USA tour for 2019. People are drawn to the rich cultural heritage of this part of America. The cities of the East Coast have also seen some growth.”
Top Trends: In addition to its list of top destinations, Titan has Fred Mawer, a travel journalist and a Blue Badge tour guide for South West England, offering up the top new trends for 2019:
- More Flexibility: There’s a growing trend for companies to allow customers to make their own way to the start of tours, booking their own flights and transfers, and to let clients pay for just the excursions they wish to do, or add on activities and entertainment. More holiday extensions—rail and cruise journeys, beach and city stays—are also being introduced.
- More Immersion: Passive sightseeing is passé. Clients want to taste, make and do things, and operators are meeting the demand with more hands-on experiences. Holidaymakers also want to meet locals, if possible, go into their homes—and have a local guide with real insider knowledge.
- More Overtourism: Venice, Barcelona, Yellowstone, Cornwall – what these destinations have in common is that at peak times they are struggling to cope with visitor numbers. This trend will continue, and is likely to result in many holidaymakers preferring to travel off-peak or to less discovered alternatives.
- More Solo Travel: According to a recent report by Mintel, over half of solo travelers are interested in escorted tours. Operators are gradually offering more single-supplement-free holidays and more departures specifically for singles.
- More Expert-led Tours: Every other tour these days appears to be led by an esteemed lecturer. Tours featuring well-informed celebrities – writers, broadcasters, gardeners, environmentalists, sports stars – have become big business, and are offered by the likes of The Daily Telegraph and Mail on Sunday.
- More Small Groups: Touring in small-scale groups used to be the preserve of top-end cultural specialists and adventure companies. But mainstream touring companies are also increasingly getting in on the act, typically guaranteeing no more than 25 people on selected trips