These are the top travel trends for 2021, according to experts
These are the top travel trends for 2021, according to experts
The latest lifestyle, fashion and travel trends
Ringing in the 2020 New Year, it’s likely you had big travel plans for the year ahead. Perhaps you were counting down the days until you’d fly and flop onto a Portuguese beach, or perhaps you wanted to finally tick spotting the Northern Lights in Norway off your bucket list?
Yet, in late January a global pandemic came along and subsequently quashed all of our grand travel hopes for this year. So we’re looking to 2021 instead.
Next year, travel is set to make a triumphant return. Think luxury trips, spending longer in each locale and making the most out of every day spent exploring a new country. Travel will no longer be taken for granted.
So whether you’re looking to tap into the sustainable travel beat, reconnect with your loved ones somewhere exotic or tick off that bucket list item, the travel industry’s leading experts predict what to expect in 2021 below.
Travel priorities will change in 2021
“Travel will bounce back next year and it needs to, with so many jobs and communities dependent on it, but it will be smaller, no doubt. Some of the reduction in travel and flying is very welcome as we have now proved that we can work well and efficiently via video technology so we don’t need to fly to do business,” Tim Williamson, Director of Marketing and Content at Responsible Travel, says.
Williamson hopes that the communities we’ve fostered during the pandemic will translate into how we perceive travel as well, gearing our priorities towards slower travel with a focus on local communities and the environment.
He continues: “This may result in us wanting to travel to places for a little bit longer, rush around less and try to get under the skin of a place. I believe and hope that travellers will demand this from their holidays but I also hope that local communities are consulted on the type of tourism they want to see coming back.”
Expect an uptick in staycations and journeys to lesser-known locales
As lockdown laws begin to ease, travellers will be able to explore their own backyard a little more. Luckily, in the UK, we have plenty to see. From the Scottish Highlands to the English moors and the Welsh beaches, there’s a wealth of beauty not too far from home.
Jean-François Ferret, Chief Executive Officer of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, says: “Initially, travel will be predominantly domestic and staycations. Travellers are also more likely to venture out to lesser-known and less-populated locales to avoid crowds, hence small boutique properties like ours offering standalone accommodation and private islands will generally be preferred. Spa resorts will be popular too as people focus on improving physical and mental health.
“We believe that our guests want to continue to be inspired and to feel that they will travel soon again. More importantly, we believe that the major change will come from the fact that people will certainly travel less, but better and with a purpose – a world where people explore the world with intention, experience its intensity and protect its integrity.”
Sustainable travel will be at the forefront of holidaymaker’s minds
According to Booking.com’s Sustainable Travel Report for 2020, 82 per cent of global travellers have identified sustainable travel as being important to them while 58 per cent say they are looking to make more sustainable choices once we can travel again – and 68 per cent of travellers would like the money they spend on travel to go back into the local community.
“People will want to experience the world, all of it, perhaps more than ever before,” a spokesperson for Booking.com says. “Countries that have been most impacted by the recent crisis will be enticing tourists to visit them, so they can start to recover, and at Booking.com we believe that travellers will actively look for ways to support these communities and cities. In the coming months, we can expect the appetite for sustainable and responsible travel, as well as the need to give back to local communities both far and closer to home, to build even more momentum.
“Knowledge has become the new currency and being a force for good when travelling has become the new souvenir. It’s in using this knowledge that we can become more responsible travellers and continue to experience the world in a considerate way.”
Nicky Kelvin, Director of Content at The Points Guy agrees, and says that after seeing how less travelling can help the environment, we’ll be more conscious with our travel choices.
Kelvin adds: “Many of us are patiently waiting for 2021 – it feels like a fresh start and has many of us feeling hopeful about travel plans. People are likely to now be far more mindful about where they are travelling to and how this impacts the environment. There may be more thought given to travel for work – on the one hand Zoom calls and Skype sessions has shown all of us how unnecessary it is to get on a flight to the other side of the world for an hour meeting, but conversely, the reliance on this new type of meetings has shown its flaws and face to face interaction is likely to continue to reign supreme when the world returns to normal.”
People will head to far-flung locations to socially distance themselves post-COVID 19
“In the short term, we’re expecting people to look for adventures closer to home, or to go to the other extreme of travelling to far-flung, wilderness destinations which lend themselves to social distancing – such as Patagonia and Namibia,” Tom Marchant, Co-Founder of Black Tomato says.
Marchant adds that he’s seen a rise in beach holiday bookings as Brits are keen to flock to milder climates.
He continues: “It is also encouraging to see clients booking beach destinations such as the Maldives, Mexico and the Seychelles as standalone destinations or as part of a wider itinerary, as the beach locations included within our itineraries are isolated, remote and support social distancing.”
Travellers will seek out fresh air and ‘pure’ elements
For adventures closer to home, Andre Rickerby, Chief Marketing Officer at Scott Dunn predicts travellers will be looking to our Scandinavian neighbours for a change of scenery.
He says: “After being isolated for months, travellers will look to embrace the purest elements in 2021 with destinations such as Norway and Iceland proving popular.
“Scott Dunn is predicting a rise in guests seeking wide open spaces and some of the world’s cleanest air and water. For pure elements and a dose of adventure, guests can head north to the Fjords of Norway and the remote northern peninsula of Iceland.”
Expect a revival of traditional British seaside towns
While we’re yet to feel the full economic effects of this pandemic, it’s likely staycations will be the go-to for many holidaymakers.
“I predict that in 2021 there will be a huge resurgence in domestic travel as international travel will still be complicated and a lot of people will have less disposable income that they had before,” James Jayasundera, Founder & Managing Director of Ampersand Travel, says.
“People will rediscover the beauty of their own countries and also the joys of being able to cut out international flights and jet lag from their holidays. Any stigma associated with not going abroad will have gone. People will discover that staycations can be as fun as going abroad and much less hassle. This may even lead to long-term revival of UK seaside and Spa towns as the combination of warmer weather due to global warming and a desire for more sustainable and environmentally friendly travel will create demand that will make them desirable and relevant again.”
Travellers will reconnect with loved ones on multi-generational trips
One of the most challenging aspects of the pandemic is not being able to see loved ones in person as much as we like, which is why we won’t be taking any time spent with them for granted in 2021.
“At Mavros Safaris, we have seen an increasing number of requests for multi-generational trips and trips which include large groups of friends who are looking to reconnect with one another following an intense period of isolation,” Alexander Mavros, Co-Founder & Managing Director of Mavros Safaris, says.
“The majority of these requests are seeing guests who would like to get back to basics, immerse themselves in nature and do some soul searching. Our more affluent clients are calling for private villa experiences, such as Ol Jogi in Kenya, or Ant’s Nest in South Africa which offer total exclusivity and pure immersion in a beautiful and expansive setting.”
Island destinations will be the first to return to the market
With low client volumes and plenty of social-distancing space, islands could be the likely first re-openings post-pandemic, predicts James Bell, Managing Director of Turquoise Holidays.
He adds: “There is little doubt that the luxury travel landscape will look very different in the days, weeks and months to come, however I remain positive that the luxury sector will come out the other side of this stronger than ever. Travel remains in our hearts and souls, and I believe that Island destinations with low client volumes traditionally, will be the first to return to the market.
“Many Maldivian Islands already operate in-house or shared doctors, which will once again reassure clients – temperature checks may become the new norm for a while. I do forecast price increases of up to 25 per cent as flight capacity will be reduced deliberately, which will be both a benefit and a challenge that we face. Clients will no doubt travel for longer (we are all going to have a lot of annual leave banked up at the end of this!) and sole destination holidays will increase rather than multi-centre trips. I also believe that wellness and spa experiences will see an increase in demand.”
Scandinavian countries will be trending
Scandinavia has long been a draw for its cooler climate, chance to see the Aurora Borealis and for its chic approach to interiors – which, combined with its smart handling of the COVID-19 crisis, means the area could be even more of a draw in the coming year.
Clive Stacey, Managing Director of Discover the World says: “I think Northern Europe will have great appeal for travel next year, in particular the Arctic Europe areas – locations like Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland in particular have been treading their own path over COVID-19 with much less severe restrictions and continue to offer some incredible experiences for those looking for that big outdoors trip with much less dense populations.
“I also think people will be looking to tick off some of their bucket list destinations and New Zealand and Australia will be good contenders for this – that big trip that people may have put off in the past to visit far away friend and family as well as combining with that holiday of a lifetime suddenly will have a huge appeal.
Wildlife-based trips will also be popular next year, as people vie to see something more exotic than their neighbourhood fox.
Stacey adds: “Many of these trips follow the trend of conservation and sustainability – travelling slower and more thoughtfully. Whale watching in Atlantic Canada or combining Orca spotting with glimpsing the Northern Lights in Iceland are two tempting options. Or even choosing to do that big Antarctic voyage but opting for a small expedition vessel over one of the larger ships.”
Portugal and Greece will be the go-to for Mediterranean breaks
With the Balearics already saying they won’t accept travellers from the UK anytime soon, Brits will turn to countries like Greece and Portugal who are opening their doors.
“With Spain, Italy and France having been so often in the news with challenges around dealing with coronavirus, we expect that Portugal and Greece will be more popular in the short term with British travellers looking for Mediterranean breaks,” Michael Cullen, director of hotel partnerships at i-escape, says.
Cullen also expects to see an uptick in flexible booking policies as well as new guidelines for hotel hygiene standard post-pandemic.
He continues: “Flexible booking policies will become normal as unpredictable travel conditions are likely to continue until at least 2021.
“Looking ahead to travel in a post-Covid world, some hotel associations, such as those in Portugal, are already drawing up new best practice guidelines for hotel staff, daily routines, and deep-cleans of rentals between guests. We expect these to become more formalised in the coming three months, although details of how this will work are as yet unclear.”
Group trips will become the new norm
As we begin to expand our bubbles and see our nearest and dearest again, we’ll want to make new and lasting memories with them.
“We know that time with family and friends will be even more important to us once this period of separation is over and therefore predict a surge in small, close-knit groups travelling to remote destinations, both overseas and within the British Isles,” Jimmy Carroll, Co-Founder of Pelorus, says.
“Our clients are already starting to plan trips for 2021 and are asking for the privacy and wildness of remote natural landscapes, with the added comfort of either a yacht or a mobile camp to reach them.”
Mark Allvey, co-founder of Untold Story, agrees: “After months of physical and social distancing, we believe people will be seeking experiences which encapsulate the joy of coming together as human beings in the name of celebration: reuniting and reconnecting.
“This will be in addition to creating private celebratory gatherings of friends and families in exclusive destinations around the world. We are also meeting the new demands of experiential and exclusive travel with stays on remote desert islands with a survival specialist and glacier camps in heated tents in Iceland to storm chasing with a meteorologist in America. More frequently it’s these life-enhancing, sometimes life-changing journeys that more people now desire.”
We’ll all be heading Stateside ASAP
According to new research from Skyscanner, five of the top 10 destinations searched by Brits for the first quarter of next year are from the US, including Orlando, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami.
We’ll also be heading back to warmer climates as soon as we can, as Tenerife, Bali and Dubai are named the top 10 as well, while Auckland and Bangkok round off the list as lovely options for a city break.
A spokesperson for Skyscanner says: “We are seeing strong engagement from our travel community around future planning, as well hearing from many people via social media who are desperate to get back out and explore the world as soon as they can.
“While we expect domestic travel to recover ahead of international, early search patterns would indicate that when international travel returns there may be increased interest in long haul and ‘bucket list’ list destinations. While there is a lot of uncertainty right now around the future of travel, one thing is clear: we as humans will still want to connect with one another. Travel patterns and trends will adapt but fundamentally we will still want to explore the world.”