Rebecca Ellwood, Staff Writer

After a temporary hiatus, travel’s set to come back with a bang in 2021, starting with escapes close to home and graduating to far-flung destinations that reacquaint us with nature.

While it’s difficult to predict exactly what travel will look like, we’ve asked the experts at Luxury Escapes to predict their trends for where the world will be travelling in 2021.

Discovering our own backyards

Needless to say, adventures close to home will be the first to return as borders reopen and travellers tentatively venture out into the world again.

“With what we are seeing right now – with Google searches for interstate travel surpassing those of the same time last year – there is no doubt regional and interstate travel will be extremely popular moving into 2021,” says Tony Gothard, Regional Head of Partnerships & Contracting for Australia.

Additionally, after a challenging year for the country, Australians have a renewed sense of community and passion for supporting local businesses.

“Many travellers are looking to rediscover their own backyards to help out regional tourism operators that were also hit hard by the bushfires,” explains CEO Cameron Holland.

Local destinations we expect to enjoy popularity for longer breaks are Tropical North Queensland, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, which hold appeal for couples and families alike. For shorter breaks, we anticipate Tasmania, Byron Bay and regional Australia, such as the Red Centre, are set to enjoy a post-lockdown boom.

With a potential trans-Tasman travel bubble in the making, a record year for destinations such as New Zealand and Fiji could be on the cards in 2021, which offer a complete change of scene, close to home.

Lesser-trodden destinations and national parks

After being in lockdown indoors for weeks, there will be an urge to get back to nature. Social distancing will still be top of mind in 2021, with wide open spaces such as national parks or remote islands being perceived as safe for travel.

“We can expect that areas with lower density will prove popular in the months to come, particularly if we open up a travel bubble with these regions,” says Cameron.

This approach to travel will be seen across the world, with American travellers in particular expected to seek out nature-first experiences.

“Domestic US travellers will be looking to avoid crowds with nature experiences, smaller properties and cities, and travel to lesser-known parks becoming the norm,” says Brice Gosnell, Head of the Americas.

“In the Americas, this means specific regions will trend based on geographic proximity — for example, on the US’ east coast, destinations like NY’s Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains will dominate, while US’ west coast will lean towards less-visited national parks like Lassen and smaller cities with proximity to nature experiences, such as Palm Springs and Joshua Tree.”

The sweeping landscapes of Canada are also hotly tipped for 2021.

Canada may be seen as one of the ‘safe’ destinations to travel,” says John Saporito, Senior Manager – Group Touring. “Given there are direct flights from Australia to Canada without having to transit via another country, this will appeal to many people wanting to experience beautiful landscapes and amazing wildlife.”

Road trips are also set to make a renaissance, as they provide the opportunity to travel to several destinations without having to share transport.

Local Luxury

Travellers may look to spend the budget they’d usually put aside for an international holiday on an extra-special escape close to home.

“With Australians unable to travel overseas for at least the immediate future, they’ll be wanting the same level of luxury as they might have previously splurged on for an international trip in their own backyard,” says Cameron.

The Australian desire to travel and experience the world continues burns strongly, with travellers still looking for those exclusive, world-class experiences – just without the journey time. Local luxury hotels are upping their game in readiness, with some even using the lockdown period to implement renovations.

A heightened interest in experiential travel and gourmet experiences may also be set to resume post-lockdown.

“We’re going to see a continued rise of immersive travel – getting under the skin of a destination, rather than just ticking it off your bucket list,” says John.

“Wineries, glamping and city stays have always been popular but may become even more so now,” adds Cameron.

Bucket-list destinations

With travel being restricted for such a long time, travellers will be itching to tick-off bucket list destinations they’ve been dreaming about – and after the events of the past few months, there’s a rising ‘you only live once’ mentality. Although travel may look slightly different, once the world fully re-opens, there’ll be no limit on where our wanderlust will take us.

“Areas such as the Middle East will see a big demand – in particular like Egypt, Jordan and Israel,” predicts John. “Neighbouring areas such as Morocco and Turkey will also be hot destinations in 2021 for people in search of more exotic destinations that are steeped in history and culture.”

“We could see more isolated island locations like the Maldives, South Pacific, outer islands of Indonesia and even Hawaii prove to be the next favourites in 2021,” says Cameron.

For many of us, lockdown has allowed us the time to reflect on what is truly important. Is there a destination you’ve always had on your bucket list, but none of your friends felt the same? Now could be the time to jump right in and live life to the fullest.

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