Australia is one of the world's top 5 luxury travel destinations

South Australian luxury destination Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island

Australia has made the list of the world’s five best nations for luxury travel, ranking just behind Italy, France, South Africa and Mexico in an annual survey of where the well-heeled are heading on vacation.

The 2016 Virtuoso Luxe Report, an industry trend forecaster compiled by the $14 billion Virtuoso travel network, also put New Zealand in the top 5 places for adventure travel, with the lifting of US sanctions on Cuba turning the communist Caribbean nation into the hot new travel destination. A trend towards heading to untouched and unique places also putting Bhutan and Myanmar high on the lists, along with Bjork’s birthplace, Iceland, and at the other end of the planet, Antarctica hitting the top 5 for the first time.

Despite uncertainty in the Middle East, people are also looking at Iran, which is considered relatively safe, along with remote Mongolia.

One of the big trends for the coming year is multigenerational travel – grandparents, parents and kids travelling together to places such as Africa for safari. Food and wine tours in Italy are also popular, with the land of pasta and pizza topping Italy topped the family destination list, followed by Mexico, Hawaii, Orlando (Florida, USA) and England. The appearance of Florida in the list reflects the predominance of US clients in Virtuoso’s client base, which also spells good news for Australia as the dollar continues to slide against the greenback, with scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef is among the regularly requested adventures.

There’s also a quirky approach to luxury family travel, ranging from surfing in Sri Lanka to language lessons in Costa Rica and heli-skiing and ice fishing in northern Canada as well Mongolia, and is drawing interest from intrepid travelers in search of something new.

South Africa is the top destination for active travel, followed by Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand and Peru. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda, mountain climbing in Iceland, and swimming with whale sharks in Mexico and pigs in the Bahamas.

Unsurprising, cruising, a boom industry in Australia, is among the top travel trends with both river cruising and luxury cruises popular among.

But if people are heading off on honeymoon, the surprising fact is that Paris are not top of the list, with lovers preferring Italy, then Costa Rica, with France not even making the top 5.

Here are the key trends of the 2016 Virtuoso Luxe Report:

Top Travel Trends
1. Multigenerational travel
2. River cruising
3. Active or adventure trips
4. Luxury cruises
5. Celebration travel

Top Emerging Destinations
1. Cuba
2. Iceland
3. Croatia
4. Myanmar
5. Antarctica

Top Global Destinations
1. Italy
2. France
3. South Africa
4. Mexico
5. Australia

Top Adventure Destinations
1. South Africa
2. Maui, Hawaii
3. Galapagos Islands
4. New Zealand
5. Peru

Top Honeymoon Destinations
1. Italy
2. Costa Rica
3. French Polynesia
4. Maldives
5. Mexico

Top Family Travel Destinations
1. Italy
2. Mexico
3. Hawaii
4. Orlando, USA
5. England

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