Next year, travel is set to make a triumphant return. Think luxury trips, spending longer in each location and making the most out of every day spent exploring a new country. Travel will no longer be taken for granted.
So, whether you are looking to tap into the sustainable travel, reconnect with your loved ones somewhere exotic or tick off that bucket list item, here is my predictions, as to what to expect in 2021.
First and foremost, travel priorities will change. 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.
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.
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 is a wealth of beauty not too far from home.
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. Spa resorts will be popular too, as people focus on improving physical and mental health.
People will want to experience the world, all of it, perhaps more than ever before. Countries that have been most impacted by the recent crisis will be enticing tourists to visit them, so they can start to recover, and I believe that travellers will actively look for ways to support these communities and cities. In the coming months, we can expect that there will be an 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.
Many of us are patiently waiting for 2021, as 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.
Long Haul Travel
People will head to far-flung locations to socially distance themselves post-COVID 19.
In the short term, people will be looking 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.
There has been a rise in beach holiday bookings, as Brits are keen to flock to milder climates.
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 the itineraries are isolated, remote and support social distancing.
Fresh Air and ‘Pure’ Elements Adventures
For adventures closer to home, travellers will be looking to our Scandinavian neighbours for a change of scenery.
After being isolated for months, travellers will look to embrace the purest elements in 2021 with destinations such as Norway and Iceland proving popular.
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. Travellers can head north to the Fjords of Norway and the remote northern peninsula of Iceland.
Multi Generation Travel
Travellers will reconnect with loved ones on multi-generational trips, as 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.
Visiting Islands and Luxury Travel
With low client volumes and plenty of social-distancing space, islands could be the likely first re-openings post-pandemic.
There is little doubt that the luxury travel landscape will look quite different in the days, weeks and months to come, however 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.
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.
Australia and New Zealand
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 friends and family as well as combining with that holiday of a lifetime suddenly will have a huge appeal.
Wildlife Based Travel
Wildlife based trips will also be popular next year, as people view to see something more exotic than their neighbourhood fox.
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.
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 yet unclear.
A final note
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.
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.
We may also head back to warmer climates as soon as we can, such as Tenerife, Bali and Dubai, while Auckland and Bangkok round off the list as lovely options for a long-haul trip.
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!