Top 10 Islands for Luxury Travel: Bahamas Rule, but Turks and Caicos is at the Top of the Wish List, According to New Survey by Resonance Consultancy

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While the Bahamas is the most-visited destination for American luxury travelers, Turks and Caicos is the hottest new jewel to emerge from the turquoise sea, according to a new survey by Resonance Consultancy, a leading global travel and tourism consulting firm that monitors travel and leisure trends.

Rendering of Rosewood Hotels' Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas

The Bahamas has always been associated with luxury travel, and the country resisted catering to the lower end of the market after the downturn in 2008. Many other Caribbean destinations went the other way.

The Bahamas continues to attract American luxury travelers, according to a new study released by Resonance Consultancy. The report also shows that the island group most wealthy Americans want to visit is just to the southeast, the emerging destination of Turks and Caicos.

The study, conducted in conjunction with the Luxury Institute in New York, surveyed more than 1,200 individuals from households with incomes of $150,000 and higher. The top 10% of American households now control 74% of the country’s wealth and account for nearly 50% of U.S. consumer spending today.

74% of all luxury travelers surveyed have visited the Caribbean, and 44% have visited the Bahamas, making it the most frequently visited island destination. 16% of affluent Americans already own or are considering vacation homes in the Caribbean, with the highest concentration (6%) in the Bahamas.

“The Bahamas has always been associated with luxury travel, and the country resisted catering to the lower end of the market after the downturn in 2008. Many other Caribbean destinations went the other way,” says Chris Fair, president of Resonance Consultancy.

The Bahamas welcomed approximately 5.8 million visitors in 2012, a 6% increase over 2011 arrivals. The islands offer easy access, short flight times and numerous luxury resorts – the preferred accommodation type for 36% of luxury travelers. The newest, the $2.6 billion Baha Mar resort in Nassau is on track to open in December 2014 and is expected to singlehandedly draw 500,000 more visitors annually to the Bahamas. “We expect to see more direct flights and larger aircraft to accommodate increased tourism demand,” says Fair, “which will anchor the Bahamas atop the Caribbean destination list for years to come.”

Regional competition is a constant in and around the Caribbean, and today, more than a quarter of American luxury travelers surveyed cited the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) as the island destination they would most like to visit.

Tourism to Turks and Caicos has grown by double digits in recent years, rising to more than a million visitors in 2012. Over the past five years, the TCI tourism industry has put exceptional effort into raising service standards, and numerous luxury resorts have sought to outdo one another with extravagant amenities, stunning views and personalized service.

The archipelago’s reputation has been boosted by repeatedly being named one of the world’s Top 10 family destinations and the world’s leading beach destination, particularly for its spectacular Grace Bay Beach. “We know that 57% of luxury travelers plan to take a family vacation in the next 12-24 months,” says Resonance Executive Vice-President Richard Cutting-Miller. “With TCI’s rising reputation as a family destination, along with new five-star resorts such as Amanyara, Turks and Caicos is positioned to be a rising island star.”

According to the survey, the Top 10 most visited island destinations for U.S. luxury travelers are:

1. Bahamas
2. Puerto Rico
3. Jamaica
4. Virgin Islands
5. St. Maarten
6. Cayman Islands
7. Bermuda
8. Aruba
9. Barbados
10. Dominican Republic

According to the survey, the Top 10 island destination U.S. luxury travelers would most like to visit are:

1. Turks & Caicos
2. Aruba
3. Virgin Islands
4. Cayman Islands
5. Bermuda
6. St. Lucia
7. St. Barts
8. St. Kitts & Nevis
9. Barbados
10. St. Maarten
10. The Bahamas

The Resonance Consultancy study of U.S. Affluent Travel & Leisure was carried out among a representative national sampling of the top 9% of U.S. households: 1,232 consumers aged 21 and over with a minimum gross annual income of $150,000.

Resonance Consultancy provides travel & tourism consulting and advisory services to destination marketing organizations and governments around the world. The principals of Resonance have completed more than 100 travel & tourism studies, reports and plans in 65 different countries. To learn more about Resonance’s tourism research, strategy, planning and branding services, visit

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