American Express Travel (No. 6 on Travel Weekly’s 2022 Power List) has released its 2023 Trending Destinations, and it’s a list of places where American Express customers have long wanted to visit, said company president Audrey Hendley. 

Based on American Express Card member bookings, 10 popular places travelers are going next year are Copenhagen, Denmark; the Florida Keys; Istanbul, Turkiye; Lisbon, Portugal; Mexico City; Montenegro; Paris; Sydney; Yaukuve Levu Island, Fiji; and Woodstock, Vt.

“Travel has returned faster and at a higher pace than we all expected,” Hendley said.

While a number of favorite destinations are represented, she added, “I also think that a lot of people are saying, ‘Where are the places that were on my list that I didn’t get to go to?’ And they bring them to the top — I think that’s what we’re seeing.”

She pointed to Sydney, for example. Australia was closed to visitors for so long, people want to visit now that they’re able. 

According to Hendley, American Express Travel’s mix of international and domestic bookings has returned to 2019 levels. Around 70% of bookings are domestic, while 30% are international. 

The agency is also seeing a high number of advanced bookings. In fact, advanced bookings for 120 days-plus are up 40% this year compared to the same period of time in 2019.

“That’s an incredible number, and it’s a great amount of momentum for us to take into year-end travel,” Hendley said.

Customers are very interested in “purpose-driven travel,” Hendley said, including the kind of cultural activities they can immerse themselves in while in a destination. They are also interested in shopping at locally owned stores with locally owned operators.

“The philosophies we’ve had around being more careful with our footprint and how we spend our money — [that goes] for our travel life, as well,” she said.

Customers and colleagues are also asking about diversity and inclusion, and if they’ll feel welcomed and valued when they arrive.

“I think the pandemic has certainly changed how a lot of people think of travel,” Hendley said. “We’re not taking it for granted anymore. We know it’s something we love. We know it’s something we want to do. But we’ve had time to sit back and think a little bit about why we travel — what’s meaningful to us when we travel.”

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