Travel Leaders Group marks hottest getaway destinations this year


Cruise ships travel through the Mediterranean Sea. Photo via

Now that the holidays are all but a sweet memory, thoughts about where to go on spring break and what to do for this summer’s vacation are popping up as the cold weather moves in.

Well, the Travel Leaders Group — which has offices in Grand Rapids, Holland and Spring Lake — has some ideas.

The firm recently released the results of its annual industry survey of top destinations and activities, and the ever popular Caribbean cruises still tops the international list. But travel to Europe is starting to gain ground among Americans.

“Already, 2013 is shaping up to be a banner year for European travel. While Caribbean cruises are still the number one international ‘destination’ for our travelers, our booking data show a marked increase in American travelers heading across the Atlantic in the coming year,” said Barry Liben, CEO of Travel Leaders Group, which is based in Plymouth, Minn.

“Rome and London always draw large numbers of travelers. This year, each city moved up one spot to numbers four and five, respectively, on our list,” added Liben.

While those two cities are always popular, as is Cancun, Liben said the survey also reveals a surprising result. The survey, which was completed in mid December and includes more than 1,000 responses from travel professionals, indicates European cruises are on the rebound.

“Mediterranean cruises landed in our top three for the first time ever, and European river cruising is the ultimate ‘hot’ ticket. In just two years, it has jumped 13 places to the eighth most booked international destination in our survey,” he said.

“”For travelers interested in staying ahead of the pack, we also identified the top up-and-coming destinations,” said Liben.

A few up-and-coming European destinations on the survey are Croatia, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Iceland.

New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora and Australia made the same list for Pacific Rim destinations.

The up-and-comers in Asia are Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia and Malaysia.

Ecuador, Panama, Brazil and Argentina made the list for South and Central America.

The top domestic destinations for 2013 are the usual suspects: Orlando, Las Vegas, an Alaskan cruise, Maui, New York, Honolulu, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Chicago.

The Travel Trends Survey also shows that travel spending in 2013 isn’t expected to fluctuate from the two previous years.

 Business Travel News has ranked the Travel Leaders Group as the top corporate travel management company, while Entrepreneur rated the Travel Leaders franchise brand tops in the category of "miscellaneous" travel agencies. Annual sales revenue for the Travel Leaders Group is $18 billion. 

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