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South America – the next big thing?

Written by editor

With the economy in Europe slowing down, Great Hotels Organization (GHO) predicts some interesting changes are set to take place in the luxury travel market.

With the economy in Europe slowing down, Great Hotels Organization (GHO) predicts some interesting changes are set to take place in the luxury travel market. There is a growing demand for luxury hotels in exotic locations to meet the ever-changing desires of European travelers. So, is South America the next big thing?

Chris Paton, regional manager – business development, GHO, commented, β€œWe have seen the way tourism in Asia has grown and we expect the same thing will happen with South America. As flight times and costs are similar to Asia, people will be more open to searching for new experiences and cultures that are unique to this diverse continent.”

Current economic imbalances are affecting consumer spending habits. Decreasing disposable income and a decline in travel budgets are shifting travel patterns and making consumers more demanding when it comes to luxury travel. Europeans are still traveling, and the luxury market is still booming, but consumers are seeking to visit new high-quality destinations where their money goes further.

Like Asia, South America has shrugged off its reputation as a backpacker destination and has undergone an elegant transformation into a modern up-and-coming destination for the luxury traveler. The Uruguayan resort of Punta del Este has proved this by putting itself on the map as one of the most luxurious cities in South America attracting high numbers of affluent travelers and celebrities every season.

Although international flight costs may seem high in comparison to Europe, travelers are becoming increasingly aware that not only the cost of high-end accommodation, eating out, leisure activities and domestic air travel is considerably lower, but they will also gain unique and unforgettable experiences from exploring this part of the world. This combination makes South America an attractive and affordable alternative to traditional European holiday destinations.

According to booking statistics from and, South American and Central American countries featured heavily in the top 100 looked and booked destinations since the beginning of the year. Brazil, Puerto Rico and Mexico are amongst the most popular destinations, and GHO predicts an even stronger growth in 2009.

β€œWe carefully monitor the traffic to our site and pay particular attention to the destinations people are searching for,” stated Carly Gotz, group director of business development, GHO. β€œWe have a sophisticated and adventurous database of consumers and South American traffic has soared.”

South American hotels need to recognize the huge potential the European luxury travel market has and should utilize this opportunity by marketing their services to this important inbound market.

In response to the increased demand for South American travel, GHO is focusing on expanding its portfolio of luxury properties in the region for the long-term development of the Great Hotels of the World and Special Hotels of the World brands.

Carly Gotz commented, β€œThe demand for luxurious properties in new destinations such as Argentina, Peru and Brazil has prompted us to expand our portfolio to this area. We have recognized the importance of this market and are offering new services to members such as South American MICE roadshows. Our first roadshow in this market will be held in Sao Paolo next month and provides our members with a full five-day schedule of appointments with A-list meeting planners. We look forward to working with this exciting market.”