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Top travel destinations and travel trends for 2020

Tropical Sunset, Beach, Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

As we bid farewell to 2019, we remember the year that was.

It was a year where Qantas tested the waters of long-haul flights from Sydney to London and New York and when Japan hosted the Rugby World Cup.

Where will 2020 take us? It's anyone's guess. But we've got a pretty big hunch these destinations are bound to be on the map.

Top travel destinations for 2020

Akihabara Electric town, street view, Tokyo, Japan

1. Japan

According to Roy Morgan, the land of the rising sun is one of the fastest growing destinations on Australians' bucket lists – and with good reason.

Boasting traditional villages, a tech-forward lifestyle and a quirky culture, this country is like none other on Earth. Cheap flights don't hurt either with Jetstar offering direct fares to the nation for a steal.

What's putting Japan on the map in 2020 is the Summer Olympics. While held in Tokyo, many alternate Japanese destinations are benefiting from the tourism boost. Expedia in particular has seen an 80% increase in demand for hotel stays in Nagoya in 2019.

Finder's tip: Organise your JR pass before you leave. These rails passes are available to visitors only and provide unlimited transport on the system.


2. South Korea

Putting South Korea firmly in our sights is Jetstar, which launched flights into Seoul in December 2019.

This captivating city revels in culture and cuisine. Fares start at $179 each way from the Gold Coast, so it's bound to become the next big cheap holiday destination for Aussies.

Beyond Seoul, the second largest city Busan is getting tourism love, too. The coastal city has seen almost a 50% increase in demand according to Expedia in 2019. As a port city, many Asian cruises call in at Busan.

Finder's tip: Skip Japan during cherry blossom season and visit Seoul instead. Having been occupied by the Japanese, you'll notice these beauties flourish just about everywhere. The best bit? As Seoul is lesser known for its cherry blossoms, it'll be less crowded over the season.

Boudhanath is a stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. Located about 11 km from the center and northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, the stupa's massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal.

3. Nepal

2020 marks the fifth year anniversary of Nepal's devastating 2015 earthquake. After rebuilding, the country is launching a "Visit Nepal 2020" campaign to bring tourism back to its front door.

G Adventures has pinned this one as the place to be after seeing a whopping 90% increase in travellers since 2017.Skyscanner has also called this one out as a hotspot, having seen a 51% year-on-year growth in bookings to Nepal on its site.

We have a hunch they're both right on the money.


4. Sri Lanka

The words "Sri Lanka" and "undertourism" have been coupled together lately due to the nation's decline in tourism following the 2019 Easter attacks. maintains Australians should exercise a high degree of caution – so it may not be for you.

However, if you are keen to visit, the Sri Lankan government has waived ETA fees for visitors from select nations, including Australia, until 31 January 2020.

A lion cub, Panthera leo, lies on a boulder, draping its fron legs over the rock, looking away, yellow golden coat (A lion cub, Panthera leo, lies on a boulder, draping its fron legs over the rock, looking away, yellow golden coat, ASCII, 115 componen

5. South Africa

We've heard this destination tossed around a lot when people talk about their wishlists, and G Adventures has tipped it to trend in 2020. That's not just because of its double-digit growth with the tour company over the past couple of years.

In 2020, South Africa celebrates the 30th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release, so you can expect the country to come alive with festivities.

Finder's tip: There's so much more to South Africa than going on safari. On top of a wildlife adventure, spend some time in the colourful city, visit the local beaches or make a trek out to the wine region.

Photo Taken In Colombia, Bogota

6. Bogota, Colombia

You've heard of Peru and Rio, but have you been to Bogota? Skyscanner has seen bookings to Colombia's capital grow by 62% year on year (YoY), and you'll want to get in before the masses catch on.

Skyscanner attributes this increased interest to an increase in safety in the city. When in town, be sure to spend a day in the Andes, climb Mount Monserrate and gaze on the relics in the Gold Museum.

Photo Taken In Goreme, Turkey

7. Turkey

This gorgeous country is going from strength to strength. In 2019, it skyrocketed up the trends lists inundating our Instagrams with immaculate pictures of Cappadocia and its famous hot air balloons.

2020 is shaping up to be another hot year for Turkey. Over the past year, Skyscanner has noticed a 26% increase in bookings to Istanbul and we reckon that's only bound to keep going up. Expedia too has seen a 105% increase in bookings to the beach city of Cesme.

It's one to keep an eye out for in 2020 as the next big destination for travellers who've fallen in love with Turkey but seen Istanbul and Cappadocia already.

Finder's tip: Turkey is a large country and while Istanbul is home to Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Galata Tower, there's more to see further afield. Head to Izmir to visit Ephesus, to Pamukkale to bask in its thermal waters or to Troy to see the famous horse.

Archway inlaid with vibrant mosaic tile patterns, The Registan, a historic 15th century Madrasa building.

8. The Silk Road

Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan are all coming out of the woodwork in 2020.

They all span the famous Silk Road and Exodus Travels has pinned them down as a growing destination of interest.

The lay of the land is captivating, ranging from vast deserts to verdant valleys, and the towns that mark the way are steeped in Greek, Persian and Mongolian history.

Capture them all with Exodus Travels' The Five Stans of the Silk Road.

Man crossing a suspension bridge in Costa Rica seen from behind.

9. Costa Rica

As the world turns its eye toward more sustainable practices, one region leading the way is Costa Rica. Exodus Travels holds it in high regard as it boasts more protected land proportionally than any other country.

It's also home to numerous eco-friendly lodges including Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, which is 100% carbon neutral.


10. Canada

Whether it's the call of the Northern Lights, Niagara Falls or The Rockies, Luxury Escapes latest travel report finds Canada at the top of traveller's must-visit lists in the next decade.

Not only is it a family-friendly destination, but it's also one that draws in business travellers.

Finder's tip: Don't hole yourself up in one section of Canada – each has something different to offer. Vancouver and the Rockies are overrun with adventure activities while Montreal and Quebec City offer a glimpse of Europe in North America.

Top 4 travel trends of 2020

From sustainable travel to gastronomical travel, here's how the experts in the know are predicting travel will change in 2020.

1. Sustainable travel

The biggest and most prevalent trend for 2020 is the rise in sustainable and eco-friendly travel. This covers anything from flying on lower-emission airlines to avoiding destinations that are plagued by overtourism.

In support of this trend, Skyscanner has seen a 103% YoY increase in more eco-friendly travel. It has also noted that one in every 10 flights booked through it was an eco-friendly one.

It's not just flights that travellers are becoming more conscious about, either. Destinations are also being given a once over. found that 54% of global travellers wish to reduce overtourism, with 51% saying they're willing to swap their current travel destination for somewhere similar if it would reduce their impact.

Luxury Escapes is seeing a similar trend in its holiday packages, noting that over 2,000 of the trips booked in the last year were generated by its Conscious Collection.

Three pillars of sustainable tourism determine eligibility into the Conscious Collection:

    1. Environmentally-friendly operations. This includes the fundamentals of "reduce, reuse and recycle".
    2. Support for the protection of natural and cultural heritage. This can include support for wildlife conservation via scientific research projects and the safeguarding of cultural heritage by supporting traditional handicrafts.
    3. Social and economic benefits to local communities. This can include hiring local staff, providing fair wages and supporting local businesses as much as possible.

2. Digital dependence

Say farewell to that digital detox – more and more of us are seeking to stay connected while on holiday.

Luxury Escapes' latest report found that 25% of holidaymakers need to be connected to the world 24/7 while only 16% say they'd rather go completely off the grid.

The other percentages prefer to stay connected to some degree.

On top of staying connected, we're utilising the power of tech, apps and the Internet to help us navigate and dictate our travel. found that almost half (46%) of travellers use an app to travel and book their activities in real time.

A further 59% are willing to put their trust in tech to "surprise" them on holiday and introduce them to something new.

3. Slow travel

Based around the slow food movement, slow travel prioritises soaking up a destination's atmosphere over a lengthened period of time rather than blitzing through it in a day or two.

This could mean anything from travelling by train instead of plane or staying a few weeks in one city.

Either way, it's a trend Skyscanner has seen increase by 20% year on year and that has noticed 48% of travellers are willing to turn to – particularly if it means it reduces their environmental impact.

4. Gastronomy

It should come as little surprise that food fuels many an Australian's travel desires. And while this is nothing new, it is still trending in 2020 so we're keeping it on this list.

According to Kayak's 2019 Travel Spending Report, 50% of us put eating at restaurants and cafes at the top of our holiday-expenses list. This is above shopping, cultural activities and tours.

However, we're being sustainable in our choices, with noting that 71% of us prioritise eating locally sourced produce.

As for the quality of the nosh? Well, Luxury Escapes reckons we're a little posh. It found that 43% of us like to treat ourselves at a fancy restaurant while on holiday.

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