Where Canadian travellers are spending rest of 2019

Visitors hike the Snake Trail that leads up a mountainside to the ancient Israeli fortress of Masada. Israel is a Top 10 destination for Canadian luxury travellers. (ROBIN ROBINSON PHOTO)

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Thanks to Statistics Canada, we know exactly where Canadian travellers go on vacation. Now, new statistics released by Virtuoso, a global network of 20,000 luxury travel advisers, provides a glimpse of where well-heeled Canadians are going for the rest of 2019.

Mainstream travellers spend about $10,000 per year on family vacations, compared to Virtuoso travellers who spend about $24,000, Misty Belles, Virtuoso’s managing PR director, recently told the organization’s annual conference in Las Vegas. But wealthy or not, knowing where luxury travellers are going today pinpoints which destinations might emerge as tomorrow’s hot-spots for all travellers.

While Canadians continue to explore close to home (Canada and the United States are tops by a wide margin for both groups) luxury travellers also gravitate to less visited places. Many of the Top 10 luxury destinations mirror those of mainstream travellers but Virtuoso’s Canadian research highlights key differences. For instance, both groups flock to Mexico in big numbers but, for fall vacations, a higher percentage of luxury travellers opt for Europe and Australia.

South Africa and Israel are not Top 10 destinations for mainstream Canadians but are favourite choices for luxury travellers seeking “trips of a lifetime,” Belles said. In addition, adventure travel, such as close-contact with wildlife in South Africa and Rwanda or outdoor experiences in scenic places such as Sweden or Austria, is the top trend in Canadian travel for 2019.

And, yes, luxury travellers take winter beach vacations, too (Mexico is a top choice for both groups) but they also journey to places such as Malaysia and Malta that have mild winters, vibrant culture and intriguing history.

Virtuoso’s research includes a Canadian “Hot 10” list — destinations that have seen the biggest increases in year-over-year bookings.

Top 10 luxury destinations
1. Canada
2. United States
3. Italy
4. United Kingdom
5. Australia
6. Mexico
7. Israel
8. France
9. South Africa
10. Spain
— Virtuoso

Top 10 mainstream destinations
1. Canada
2. United States
3. Mexico
4. Cuba
5. United Kingdom
6. Dominican Republic
7. France
8. China
9. Italy
10. Spain
– Statistics Canada

The Hot 10
1. Rwanda (+533%)
2. Sweden (+435%)
3. Fiji (+380%)
4. Malaysia (+258%)
5. Barbados (+186%)
6. South Korea (+154%)
7. Austria (+111%)
8. Malta (+103%)
9. Jordan (+101%)
10. St. Lucia (+95%)
— Virtuoso