Survey: Venice is top “must see” destination, Cuba travel grows


PLYMOUTH, MN – Today, Travel Leaders Group released its latest survey findings in which Cuba continues trending upward in interest among American travelers and is likely to increase further with regularly scheduled air service from the United States that was announced on June 10.

Survey participants indicating they’d “go immediately” to Cuba if all government restrictions were lifted has risen to nearly 11%, with gains also charted among those who have already been there. This year’s survey also explored the Top 20 International Destinations already being booked for 2016 by Travel Leaders Group agents by asking travelers to rank their desire to visit each; the top “must see” destination was Venice, Italy, followed by Florence (Tuscany), Rome, London and Dublin, respectively. The survey was conducted April 4 to April 30, 2016, and includes responses from 3,431 consumers throughout the United States.

“Today’s announcement of six U.S. airlines approved for commercial flights to Cuba, beginning this fall, is another major step toward more American visitors in Cuba. While Congress has yet to lift all remaining restrictions on travel, it is clear from our survey data that Americans are increasingly considering and booking travel to Cuba, albeit modestly,” explained Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. “Cuba is such a fascinating and culturally-rich destination that we anticipate continued growth. Our goal is to assist clients in determining which of the 12 approved categories of authorized travel best fits their needs.”

Cuba Travel:

The number of Americans interested in travel to Cuba if all U.S. Government restrictions are lifted continued to increase year-over-year. Conversely, the number who indicated they have no interest in traveling to Cuba has decreased substantially since last year.

2016 2015 2014

I’ve already been there. 3.2% 2.0% 1.6%
I’d go immediately. 10.9% 8.8% 6.9%
I would go as soon as I believed Cuba was ready for Americans. 16.4% 14.9% 11.5%
I might consider going. 34.3% 35.4% 32.4%
I have no interest in going. 35.1% 39.0% 47.6%

“Must See” International Destinations:

Based on Travel Leaders Group’s Top 20 International Destinations for 2016 – those destinations that Travel Leaders Group travel agents were booking the most heading into this year – survey participants were asked to rate their interest level in visiting these particular destinations. Response options included: “must see,” “very interested,” “interested,” “little interest,” and “no interest.”

Must See Interested or
Very Interested

1 Venice, Italy 30.2% 51.2%
2 Florence and/or Tuscany, Italy 28.8% 55.2%
3 Rome, Italy 28.4% 51.7%
4 London, England 25.7% 54.4%
5 Dublin, Ireland 24.5% 53.6%
6 Paris, France 24.4% 48.9%
7 CRUISE – Europe (River) 20.2% 48.5%
8 Barcelona, Spain 19.6% 57.7%
9 CRUISE – Europe (Mediterranean) 16.1% 51.5%
10 Amsterdam, The Netherlands 14.7% 56.7%
11 CRUISE – Caribbean 13.3% 45.6%
12 CRUISE – Europe (Baltic) 12.1% 48.1%
13 Aruba 11.1% 49.2%
14 Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos, Mexico 9.6% 49.2%
15 Playa del Carmen/Riviera Maya, Mexico 8.9% 45.1%
16 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 8.2% 46.2%
17 Montego Bay, Jamaica 7.6% 42.9%
18 Cancun, Mexico 6.7% 42.1%
19 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 6.1% 42.3%
20 CRUISE – Mexico 4.3% 30.3%

“Overall, we can confidently say that the demand for leisure travel is still very strong,” Chacko added. “Our survey also revealed that more than nine out of 10 participants will take the same number or more leisure trips in 2016. Our job is to make sure we help them get the most value out of each trip and dollar spent.”
Additional Key Findings:

• Over 96% of those polled said they “have or will take” at least one leisure trip this year.

• More than 91% indicated that the total number of leisure trips they anticipate taking in 2016 will be either the same or more than last year (36.5% say “more” while 54.6% say “the same”).

• Also, 86.7% of those polled stated they will spend the same or more on leisure trips this year versus 2015 (42.4% will spend “more” and 44.3% will spend “the same” on their leisure trips as compared to last year).

• Land or Cruise: When asked whether participants’ leisure trips were land-based, cruise-only or a combination of both, the results (compared to previous years) showed:

2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011

Land-based, only. 52.5% 67.1% 60.1% 59.9% 63.5% 77.3%

Cruise, only. 5.0% 5.7% 2.8% 2.7% 2.3% 1.5%

Both land-based and cruise vacations. 42.5% 27.2% 37.1% 37.4% 34.3% 21.2%

• Traveling Away from Home: With the vast majority of survey participants indicating they will take at least one leisure trip in 2016, it was also important to find out how far they are traveling from home. Selecting all options that apply to their leisure trip(s) this year, the top responses were:

Travel within the U.S. and farther than a bordering state. 79.6%

Travel within your home state. 54.9%

Travel internationally (Canada, Mexico and/or Caribbean). 51.1%

Travel to a bordering state. 48.2%

Travel internationally (Europe). 33.3%