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Thomas Stanley, COO of Cox & Kings, the longest-established travel company in the world with more than 250 years of experience names the hottest destinations, experiences and modes of travel for the coming year.
1. Multi-Destination Vacations – Because travelers want to get the most out of their vacations, there has been an uptick in multi-destination vacations. According to Stanley, “We are starting to see an increased interest in combined itineraries such as India and Bhutan or Peru and Argentina. With new air routes coming on board such as LAN’s route between Lima and Iguassu, visiting two countries in one trip is more convenient than ever, affording travelers the opportunity to experience exactly what they want from a combination of countries.”
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2. The Revival of Group Tours – With the economic recovery still in progress, many travelers are looking for the same exotic travel experiences at a lower price point. Group tours provide a more value-driven travel option without compromising the once-in-a-lifetime travel experience. Recognizing there are many who want a highly experiential vacation at a great value, Cox & Kings provides options such as the new Discovery Group Journeys which engage a small group of like-minded travelers across the globe, averaging from 12-18 individuals from North America, the United Kingdom and Australia.
3. Contemporary Cultural Travel – A history-laden location is no longer enough to satisfy today’s intrepid travelers. 2011 will see a desire for more meaningful interactions with artists, trendsetters and experts local contemporary culture. “China is a destination that currently boasts a cutting-edge modern art scene, which has attracted interest from international visitors as well as art collectors,” said Stanley. “Travelers want to see beyond the historic art these areas are known for and get a glimpse into what is happening now.” Cox & Kings offers “Cambodia & China: Ancient Traditions Revealed in Contemporary Art” which explores the contemporary art scenes in each of these countries.
4. The Resurgence of Travel Experts – While once a great resource for travel information, the Internet has become so oversaturated with non-relevant information that sorting through the mass of travel sites, reader reviews and booking engines has made booking exceptional travel experiences a dicey process at best. This paired with more specialized and specific requests by the traveler has caused a resurgence in working with tour operators and travel agents. “People want to work with a travel professional who has relationships with the hotels, tour guides and intimate knowledge of the best a destination has to offer,” said Stanley. “With more than 250 years in the industry, Cox & Kings has developed invaluable and long lasting relationships worldwide.”
5. Not Just Seeing But Learning – The popularity of educational travel will continue to thrive in 2011. Travelers are interested in learning and doing, not just seeing. “Demand has increased for specialized learning experiences – everything from sushi-making in Japan to photography excursions in Argentina. People want to come away with a strong emotional connection with a destination and bring back more than just memories, but a skill they can actually use from a vacation.” Cox & Kings offers a wide variety of learning itineraries from becoming a textile expert in India with “Textiles of India” to learning the art of a sommelier in Lebanon with “Lebanon & Syria: Empires Past”.
6. Ride the Rails – A number of new luxury trains have launched in the past year, causing a renewed interest in rail travel that will increase throughout 2011. Rail travel is an easy and comfortable way to maximize travel time, allowing travelers to see a large number of sites without having to pack up and fly or drive between these locations. The Maharajas’ Express, India’s first state of the art cross-country train, offers guests luxury and comfort and amazing off-train excursions. The Classical India journey traverses Delhi, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Varanasi, and Lucknow, with return to Delhi. The Princely and Royal India journeys take guests from Mumbai to Delhi (or Delhi to Mumbai) and travels through the heart of regal India, including stop in Vadodara, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, Ranthambore and Agra.
7. Experiential Family Travel – The face of the family vacation is changing and they are extending far beyond a week-long island refuge. The demand for hands-on experiences that focus on learning and doing as opposed to just seeing will increase in 2011. According to Stanley, “There is a desire from parents to expose their children to the cultures and lifestyles of the regions that they are visiting. Travel is one of the best educational tools for children.” For example, Cox & Kings can create, as part of a family journey to China, an opportunity where teens can help take care of pandas under the supervision of zoo keepers.
8. “Bucket-List” Experiences – 2011 will see in increase in extremely unique, “bucket-list” experiences in far-flung destinations. Travelers are looking to tick those must-see travel experiences off their lists and are now seeking the experiences that will allow them to return home with bragging rights among their friends. These thrill-seeking experiences include: the “Nepal: Himalayan Helicopter Safari” journey by Cox & Kings, which offers the opportunity to view eight of the highest mountain peaks in the world, including Mount Everest, at 29,035 feet; or experiencing the great African migration in Tanzania during the annual zebra and wildebeest migration in the Serengeti with the “Splendors of Tanzania” journey. “Despite seven previous trips to Peru, last week I was finally able to check off one of my bucket list items and fly over the Nasca lines,” says Stanley.
9. One of a Kind, Specialty Travel Experiences – Niche travel will continue to grow throughout 2011. From culinary tours to yoga retreats, travelers are looking for specialized itineraries catering to very specific interests. Cox & Kings has recognized this upcoming trend and offers experiences such as the “Antiquarian Book Fair: India” itinerary which takes bibliophiles to the infamous book fairs held in Calcutta and Delhi and offers a glimpse into the multilingual publishing industry and what’s new and old in book publishing from around the world.
10. Top Destination Picks for 2011 – “Travelers are always looking for the next hot spot, and these are some of the countries where there’s been pent up demand.” Based on what Cox & Kings clients are asking for, Stanley predicts Libya, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Colombia and Jordan as the hot destinations for 2011.