Global travel agency network Virtuoso this week published its latest Hot 10 list of popular vacation spots. Based on spring booking data from Virtuoso's U.S. travel agency members, the roster comprises 10 countries around the world that saw the largest percentage of growth in year-over-year bookings for March and April between 2018 and 2019.
Leading the pack, according to Virtuoso, is Switzerland, which has seen a whopping 589 percent increase in travel bookings for spring 2019 over spring 2018. It's becoming a popular destination for upscale American travelers, the agency attests, because of its "exquisite scenery, abundance of world-class hotels and outdoor activities."
Greece, which has many of the same assets as Switzerland -- albeit with a warmer climate -- ranked No. 2 with a 312 percent increase in year-over-year bookings. Its position coincides with the country's financial recovery: In August 2018, Greece finally exited the eight-year, €289 billion eurozone bailout program that had been weighing down its economy since the Great Recession.
Having been devastated by hurricanes in 2017, the Caribbean also is rebounding, according to Virtuoso, whose list includes Turks and Caicos at No. 7 and Puerto Rico at No. 10; the former saw a 90 percent increase in bookings, and the latter a 70 percent increase.
Rounding out the list are North Africa and Middle East destinations -- No. 3 Morocco and No. 5 United Arab Emirates, which saw booking increases of 302 percent and 197 percent, respectively -- and wine-producing countries Spain, New Zealand and Chile. The latter, Virtuoso said, "is emerging as a culinary destination" thanks in part to "numerous grape harvest festivals [that] attract wine fans during March and April."
Here is the Virtuoso Hot 10 list in its entirety:
1. Switzerland (+589 percent)
2. Greece (+312 percent)
3. Morocco (+302 percent)
4. Japan (+220 percent)
5. United Arab Emirates (+197 percent)
6. Spain (+112 percent)
7. Turks and Caicos (+90 percent)
8. New Zealand (+84 percent)
9. Chile (+78 percent)
10. Puerto Rico (+70 percent)