Borneo has surged into escorted tourist specialist Titan Travel’s top 20 destinations for 2020, according to the operator’s latest travel trends report.
The south-east Asian country makes Titan’s top 20 for the first time, while there were also significant gains for Uzbekistan, Costa Rica and a resurgent Egypt.
Maintaining the top spot in the list was the US, followed by Canada, which traded places with Italy. India remains fourth and South Africa fifth.
Austria has surged into sixth spot with the country set to play host next year to the traditional Oberammergau passion play, staged every 10 years.
Vietnam rose from ninth to seventh, while both Japan and China slipped back, Japan from sixth to eighth and China from eighth to ninth. Australia maintained its spot in 10th.
Uzbekistan moved up from 15th to 11th thanks to growing demand for Silk Road tours, the ancient trading route highlighted by Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road Adventure, while Egypt rose from 16th to 12th with the $1 billion Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza finally set to open late next year.
Titan’s trends report, its second, is based on booking data and feedback from its in-house experts, travel journalists and Titan’s clients.
Key trends set to shape the travel sector include increases in solo touring and multigenerational bookings, while Titan believes travel for events and festivals are influencing destination choices “more than ever” said managing director Andy Squirrel.
Squirrel added escorted touring continued to prove a popular way to travel, and stressed he was “intrigued” to see whether trends such as flying VIP transfers would take off.
His key reflection though was on Brexit: “It’s definitely influenced a lot these past couple of years, but for us, thankfully it’s not had the impact we thought it might have,” said Squirrel. “Europe remains one of our leading regions for 2020, showing that demand for favourites like Italy and Spain is strong despite Brexit uncertainties.
“That said, exchange rates still look to be a big factor in decision-making, so we’re seeing a surge for long-haul and non-euro destinations where rates are more favourable.”
Titan’s “emerging trends” include tailored, flexible travel options such as pre- and post-tour beach and hotel stays; a rise in multigenerational travel, with 10% of all Wild Costa Rica tour bookings from parents in their 60s and 70s travelling with their 30- and 40-something children; and solo escorted touring, with Titan’s most popular destinations including Uzbekistan, Jordan and Peru.
Another key trend for Titan is sustainable travel, with the operator remarking on how a growing number of travellers are choosing to travel with responsible operators. Titan has pledged to switch to compostable brochure wrappings in 2020 and installing a drinking fountain on charter river ship MS Serenade 1 so guests can use refillable bottles onboard.
Other trends noted by Titan include a persistent demand for brochures; an increasing number of clients relying on smartphones and apps to search for, book, manage and coordinate their journeys; and an ongoing tendency for clients to book over the phone, with 64% of Titan’s booking made by phone.
TV and film are also playing a role in shaping people’s travel choices – notable influencers include Joanna Lumley, who has presented a series of travel shows in recent years, and Judi Dench, whose Wild Borneo Adventure sent Titan’s Wild Borneo tour bookings soaring 350%.
Events likely to shape next year’s travel calendar, according to Titan, include Mardi Gras (February); the Hindu Holi festival (March); tulip season in The Netherlands and Japan’s famous cherry blossom (April); Peru’s Festival of the Sun (June); the Calgary Stampede (July); the Oberammergau passion play (August); the grape harvest in Portugal’s Douro valley (September); and whale watching in South Africa (October).
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