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American Express reveals top 2023 travel destinations with early signs of 'record travel year'

American Express reveals top 2023 travel destinations with early signs of 'record travel year' (Getty Images)
American Express reveals top 2023 travel destinations with early signs of 'record travel year' (Getty Images)

Travel lovers in Canada and abroad are booking up their 2023 vacations and American Express has now announced the most popular destinations to travel to next year.

“Early signs show we are headed for a record travel year as we usher in 2023,” Vanessa Crooker, vice president of brand, lifestyle and partnerships at American Express Canada, said in a statement to Yahoo Canada. “We are tracking with very strong momentum on bookings, with the numbers growing month-over-month consistently.”

“Currently we’ve seen air travel surpass 2019 levels and lodging is moving in the same direction.”

The top 2023 travel destinations, identified by global American Express Cardmember travel bookings, are:

  • Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Florida Keys, Florida

  • Istanbul, Turkey

  • Lisbon, Portugal

  • Mexico City, Mexico

  • Montenegro

  • Paris, France

  • Sydney, Australia

  • Woodstock, Vermont

  • Yakuve Island, Fiji

Looking at Canadian cardmembers, bookings have increased to these destinations specifically, compared to 2019:

  • Paris, France

  • Lisbon, Portugal

  • Mexico City, Mexico

  • Istanbul, Turkey

  • Sydney, Australia

  • Florida Keys, Florida

The Mexican flag flies over the Zocalo, the main square in Mexico City.  The Metropolitan Cathedral faces the square, also referred to as Constitution Square.
The Mexican flag flies over the Zocalo, the main square in Mexico City. The Metropolitan Cathedral faces the square, also referred to as Constitution Square.

Popular destinations 'not one size fits all'

One thing that American Express Canada Travel and Lifestyle Services has discovered is that trending destinations "are not one size fits all."

The most popular destination from Toronto is Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from Vancouver it’s Los Angeles, California, and from Montreal it’s Paris.

Amex Canada is already seeing increased demand for peak travel times, particularly during March Break, to destinations in Central America, Bermuda and the Caribbean, and Mexico.

Summer travel is leaning heavily towards European travel, with Rome and Venice in Italy, and Athens in Greece, appearing to be top travel destinations for Canadians.

Cityscape image of Sydney, Australia with Harbor Bridge and Sydney skyline during sunset. Vacation and travel in Australia.
Cityscape image of Sydney, Australia with Harbor Bridge and Sydney skyline during sunset. Vacation and travel in Australia.

Spontaneous travel becoming a new habit, while planners double down

Just as pandemic restrictions began to loosen, there was a widely reported trend of travellers wanting to make up for lost time and make the most of their vacation, including splurging more than usual. That trends seems to be continuing.

“We still see a trend of spending more to secure memorable experiences,” Vanessa Crooker, vice president of brand, lifestyle and partnerships at American Express Canada, said in a statement to Yahoo Canada. “For example, luxury property bookings have surpassed pre-covid levels with an increase of over 30 per cent.”

“We’ve also seen an increase in booking premium or business airfare, as opposed to economy.”

Crooker also identified a new habit that is emerging: spontaneous travel.

"We’ve seen many cardmembers become more spontaneous with their travel bookings, shortening the period between booking and travel," Crooker stated. “For example, approximately 35 per cent are now booking trips with one month or less lead time, a trend that’s up 34 per cent from 2019."

"On the flip side, the planners have also doubled down with 40 per cent of Cardmembers booking more than 2 months in advance.”

Paris skyline with Eiffel tower aerial view in daylight, France
Paris skyline with Eiffel tower aerial view in daylight, France

Take advantage of travel perks, discounts

In order to really make the most of your vacation, travellers need to take advantage of any perks and booking assistance they can get their hands on, including through credit cards and loyalty programs.

For example, premium Amex cardmembers have access to American Express Travel and Lifestyle Services consultants to help curate a trip, in addition to other perks at airports and hotels.

“For us, the start of the trip begins at the airport,” Vanessa Crooker highlighted. “Premium cardmembers that depart from Toronto Pearson International Airport enjoy benefits like priority security lane access, complimentary valet care service at Terminal 1 and access to the Plaza Premium Lounge, along with the American Express Global Lounge Collection which unlocks access to more than 1,300 airport lounges across 140 countries.”

“Once you’re on the road, our Fine Hotels and Resorts program offers premium cardmembers access to some of the best hotels in the world with complimentary benefits like a daily breakfast for two, room upgrades, guaranteed late check-out, and many others. And once you’re at your destination ready to explore, we’ve made the experience of renting a car with our partners Avis and Hertz even smoother by offering benefits such as priority service and special discounts.”

If you’re looking to do your own research for your 2023 trip, Amex has curated three-day itineraries for all the most popular travel destinations for next year.

For Paris, the Amex itinerary recommends staying at the Hotel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel, explore the Jardin du Luxembourg, grab a drink at Bar Joséphine and visit the St. Ouen Flea Market, to list a few highlights.

If you’re looking to travel to the Florida Keys, stay at the Isla Bella Beach Resort & Spa, do some afternoon biking and snorkel with Florida dolphins before eating at Mahina Marathon, to highlight a few of the activities on the Amex recommended itinerary.