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Last month we headed to the 2012 USTOA Annual Conference & Marketplace in Kona, Hawaii. It was actually my first USTOA conference,so on a personal level, it was quite productive, but the best part of the conference was the positive findings that came out of the association’s first-ever comprehensive survey in its 40-year history.

In fact, “the future seems bright,” is what Jerre Fuqua, president of TRAVCOA, said during the conference’s media roundtable, pointing to the 88 percent of USTOA members that anticipate a growth in sales this year over 2012. Of that majority, a quarter (26.7 percent) forecast a “boom year” with sales in excess of 10 percent, with another quarter (26.7 percent) optimistic about sales increasing 7 to 9 percent. But it’s not all in the numbers. When the members who took the survey—there was a 75 percent response rate—responded to an open-ended question that asked them about the outlook over the next five years, members commented that they see “strong demand, aggressive growth,” and are “optimistic…
U.S. economy stabilized, U.S. dollar stronger, enabling us to have a better and improved buying power.”

What does this all mean to you? Well, according to USTOA active members, travel agents represent nearly two-thirds (64.4 percent) of total packages sold in 2011, a number expected to hold steady in 2012. “Travel agents are clearly a very important piece of our members’ business model,” Terry Dale, president and CEO, USTOA, commented.

So where will you be sending your clients this year? USTOA active members point to countries in Asia and Latin America. The number one “off-the-beaten-path” country they foresee becoming popular this year is—no surprise here—Myanmar, followed by Vietnam, India, Peru, Cambodia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador.

Cox & Kings’ own travel trends report for 2013 also points to Latin America and Asia, with Myanmar the queen of the ball in terms of emerging destinations. The reason, they say, is “for its incredible cultural history and low level of Westernization.” And if you’ve been doing your homework you know one of the hottest destinations to emerge in Latin America is Colombia. According to Cox & Kings, It’s “a diamond in the rough, home to some great South American adventure, culture and food.”

Virtuoso’s 2013 Luxe Report also eyes countries in Asia and Latin America as those making the most impact among travelers eager to venture into new territory. The five most popular “emerging destinations” are, in fact, Cuba, Myanmar, Bhutan, Chile and Vietnam, according to the report, with Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile all first-timers on the list. In terms of top international destinations, Argentina came up as the fifth most popular international destination, its first appearance on that list.

Sift through our 2012 coverage and you’ll find features and onsites on many of these aforementioned destinations, and throughout 2013, we’ll be covering even more emerging travel trends and destinations, as well as established tourism hotspots. This month’s hot ticket item? Authentic Morocco (page 122)—what not to miss, and what to avoid as your clients make their way through this mesmerizing north African country.

What destinations are on you and your clients’ radars? You can e-mail me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @Paloma_RecMag and let me know what destinations your clients are eager to explore.

delta air lines guide

Before heading straight to the Morocco feature, check out the Delta Air Lines’ 2013 Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America Travel Guide, filled with up-to-date information on what to see, where to stay and what to eat in the cities Delta serves in these regions. It’s a great planner to have handy as it offers valuable information in a nutshell.

falkland islands specialist program

This month we’ll be launching the Falkland Islands Specialist Program on edu.recommend.com. You’ll learn why this 4,700-sq.-mile archipelago, located 400 miles from the coast of South America and considered the “new Galapagos,” should be added to outdoor enthusiasts’ bucket lists, as well as vacationers yearning to “discover” a pristine, off-the-beaten-track destination. The course is jam-packed with information on active vacation options, historic and cultural activities, and accommodation options throughout the islands, as well as info on North America-based tour operators offering programs to this wonderland of wildlife and stark natural beauty.


In the December 2012 issue, in the Mexico coverage (page 26), we stated that the Secretary of Tourism for the State of Guerrero was Graciela Baez Ricardez. Although that was her position in early-2012, she has since been replaced by Javier Aluni.
—Paloma Villaverde de Rico