Research has revealed that luxury travel is booming, with HNW individuals planning to spend more and do more travel in the coming years. Jenny Southan reports

According to a research from global travel agency network Virtuoso, the majority of wealthy travellers are planning to spend more on travel in 2023 than in 2019. Even during the pandemic, they were the ones travelling when everyone else was grounded. Now, data from the Virtuoso shows travel sales for 2023 pacing 47 per cent higher than 2019.

In January 2022, 85 per cent of high-net-worth (HNW) travellers surveyed by Virtuoso said they were in a “ready-to-travel” mindset, and 86 per cent planned to take an international trip. This summer’s crowded airports are proof that travel is booming once again.

So what kinds of trends are emerging? Virtuoso says that hotel booking windows are much wider than they were in 2019. Now, the median window for domestic hotels is 58 days (compared to 2019’s 44) and 80 days for international hotels (compared to 60). This is good news for hotels, of course, but for travellers it means more difficulty finding deals and discounts.

According to Tourism Economics, global outbound leisure spending won’t fully bounce back until Q2 2024, exceeding 2019 levels by 21 per cent in 2024. From there, the numbers will keep climbing, surging to 55 per cent more than 2019 by 2026.

HNW individuals will also be spending more. A survey of Virtuoso travellers revealed that 74 per cent agree that “creating a travel experience that best fits my expectations is more important than price,” with plans to increase the average spend of US$20,700 per person in 2021 by 34 per cent, to US$27,800 per person in 2023.

Interestingly, interest in solo travel among the 65+ age group has increased from 4 per cent in 2019 to 18 per cent in 2022. On the other hand, interest in solo travel among people aged 18 to 34 has dropped from 12 per cent in 2019 to 6 per cent in 2022.

(Globetrender wonders if that is because so many older people have lost their partners to Covid? And younger people want to make up for lost time socialising?)

Data from Virtuosos shows that the 18-34 age group averaged 2.2 more international trips in the past year than the 65+ age group and 1.3 more domestic trips (it’s not surprising that they have had more confidence during the Covid era).

Regardless of age, the primary reasons for travel in 2022 are “disconnecting from the routines and stresses of home”, and “connecting with new people, cultures and ideas”.

Virtuoso notes that wellness-focused trips are the only category to see a year-on-year increase in popularity 2021 (13%) vs 2022 (24%), and trips to the Caribbean islands seem to be gaining popularity through the rest of 2022 and into 2023.

Finally, “purpose-driven travel remains paramount”, says Virtuoso. “Environmentally-friendly philosophies and practices and the preservation of natural and cultural heritage are top-of-mind concerns, especially among Gen Z and Millennials. And many are willing to pay more.”