Our annual family travel issue never ceases to amaze in terms of how this travel segment continues to grow—both in terms of destination product and the willingness of the market itself to expand and try new things regardless of economic environments and restrictive travel opportunities thanks to high oil prices necessitating airline scheduling cutbacks. Just take a look in this issue at the unique family travel opportunities in China—everything from Hong Kong’s Disneyland to special family tours that include unique experiences like the Giant Panda Tour in Chengdu’s panda sanctuary, boat trips on underground rivers, magnificent light shows with hundreds of actors and the chance to mingle with Chinese families. Family cruising just keeps getting better, too, with more and more value-driven family activities and just-for-kids-fun with the kind of all-inclusive pricing and roomy family-style staterooms that make mom and dad happy, as well. Villas and condo rentals in just about every part of the world imaginable make for an affordable alternative regardless of your family economics and special family pricing with half-price and even free rates for kids at hotels and resorts are keeping the family vacation concept alive and exceedingly well. According to the newly released Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of American Travelers, “Experience-based travel involving family and friends rules: the leading types of leisure trips remain visiting friends and relatives (50 percent) and family vacations (42 percent).” The report also went on to say that, “Americans treasure their leisure and vacation time, citing travel as their number two passion behind family…. These travelers are also savvier and more self-reliant since the arrival of the Great Recession…,” and, it continued, “…they are more determined than ever to obtain the most value from their travel purchases, though their definition of this is no longer based on price alone.” In terms of international travel, the report said, “The Caribbean (34 percent), Europe (33 percent) and Mexico (26 percent) remain the top international destinations visited by American travelers during the past two years.” And, according to a TripAdvisor family travel study undertaken about the same time as the Ypartnership’s, Mexico was the big beach destination behind The Bahamas at number 2, but still taking six of the top eight slots. It was: 1. Paradise Island, New Providence Island, The Bahamas; 2. Ixtapa, Mexico; 3. Playa Paraiso, Mexico; 4. Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman; 5. Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico; 6. Puerto Aventuras, Mexico; 7. Akumal, Mexico; and 8. Cancun, Mexico. Not bad for a destination product that’s been reeling under a barrage of bad publicity for more than two years. The point is, family travel has clearly evolved over the last few years into an incredibly sophisticated travel segment that’s not only survived international calamities and unprecedented global economic woes, but has actually enhanced itself as a travel product. Start turning the pages and we think you’ll agree.
new travel planners We just had to mention our two travel planners that we’ve included in this issue—our Flanders Travel Planner and the Cruise Stockholm Travel Planner—two publications we know you’re going to be referring to all year. Your Baltic cruise clients are going to be wowed by the information you’ll be able to give them about all the wonderful experiences awaiting them in Stockholm, one of the most popular cruise ports in Europe. And you, too, are going to be equally wowed by all the information about Flanders’ four wonderful cities—Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels and Ghent—all fairytale-like cities that go beyond the classic. Indeed, they’re a perfect blend of the classical and the contemporary, with travel experiences that are both trendy and historically unforgettable. If you haven’t booked this destination before, do yourself a favor and start now.
next month We’re heading off to Egypt, so that in the October issue we can share with you what we’re sure will be a new perspective on a very old destination. And watch for our travel blog for on-the-spot coverage of this great destination. Also in the October issue, we’re going to take you to some fantastic luxury hotels in Switzerland, India, China, Australia, Mexico and the U.S., as well as the “Best of Patagonia.” Finally, look for the Thailand Travel Planner, with a bevy of information on this fascinating Asian country. Until then, have a great read.