Looking to get your finger on the pulse? We’ve got you covered. From eco-conscious accommodations to cash-free spending, people are changing the way they see the world… and where they see it. Below are the Top Tourism Trends for 2020.

1. Second City Travel

For years, cities like Paris, Barcelona, and New York have topped the charts in in-bound tourist visits - playing host to hoards of eager travellers hoping to take the perfect selfie with the Mona Lisa or grab a cheap bite at the Mercado de La Boqueria. While these destinations have no doubt maintained their charms, what happens when everyone has “been there” and “done that”? That’s where the so-called Second Cities come in. 

Okay, so what exactly are Second Cities and how does this affect tourism moving forward? Second City Travel, is the practice of skipping out on a major city and opting for a lesser-known one nearby. Say, visiting Cork over Dublin, or Rotterdam over Amsterdam. Typically this ends up being a more budget-friendly, less crowded, and more culturally enriching experience. For a list of some of the best - check out this list of the top 15 second-cities in Europe.

Not only does travel of this nature benefit travellers, it can also have a positive impact on the destinations. The dispersing of visitors can help alleviate the travel burden on major attractions (à la Amsterdam sign) which, in turn, allows people to enjoy them for many more years to come. The same can be said about sharing the tourism dollar, bringing economic value and growth to communities that are often overshadowed by the Lonely Planet’s Top 10s.     

Enjoy the incredible history of Spain in Valencia, without the crowds and noise

2. It’s All About the Journey

Planes, trains, and automobiles, oh my! Another direction travellers are moving towards is seeking alternative modes of transportation. In trying to reduce their carbon footprint and, no doubt, shake things up a bit, people are trading in their wings for wheels. Thanks to Swedish activist Greta Thornburg and her flygskam (flight-shaming) environmental movement, responsible travellers are thinking more carefully about how frequently they fly. 

Sure, the travel times might be a tad longer, but the reduced environmental impact combined with increased cost-effectiveness and flexibility make for a more guilt-free travel experience. Not to mention, who wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon winding their way through the Swiss Alps admiring the spectacular scenery? In 2020, travel is all about the journey, not just the destination. 

Taking a train is usually a great way to see a country's scenery - all while heading to your next destination!

3. The Rise of Remote Working

With remote working outlets like Selina and WeWork on the rise, it’s no surprise that 2020 will be greeted with an onslaught of nomadic employees. Thanks to accessible online platforms and ever-increasing rent, the need for a physical office space is no more. Instead, teams are scattered about all corners of the earth, hammering out projects in co-working spaces. The remote working trend promises a bright future for the MICE industry, with more and more companies looking to bring their people together once or twice a year for a retreat. This means an increase in room nights, travel expenditures, and a bright future even with the looming economic downtown.

Remote-working is here to stay - reducing the commute and ability to live in affordable locations has made it very attractive

4. Travelling in the Off-Season

Tired of having to elbow their way through crowds at popular landmarks and waiting hours in line for dinner at that “must-eat” restaurant, an increasing number of travellers are packing their bags in the off-season. Though some still scratch their heads at the idea of visiting the Mayan Riviera in August, the cost savings and increased availability are enough to sway even the most discerning traveller. 

Travelling in a destination’s shoulder can also lead to more authentic and immersive experiences. Take Fogo Island, for example. While the summer months (July & August) bring the warmest weather and traditional activities like whale watching, a daring visit in the depths of winter (referred to colloquially as “Pack Ice” season), means the magical “creaks, groans, sparkles, and shimmers in the sunlight as seals rest on the floes and seabirds circle overhead”.

Going to a location in the off-season can allow for truly different and unique experiences

5. Transformative Travel

With the seemingly endless stream of “bad news” these days, it’s really no surprise that people want to do some good during their travels. In 2020, more and more travellers will be trading in their selfie sticks for paint brushes - supporting local communities during their ventures. This positive trend can also be seen in the MICE industry, with an increasing number of companies adding a Corporate Service Responsibility (CSR) element to their program. Not only does this leave participants feeling like they’ve made a difference, it also has tax break implications - a win for the participants, company, and locals.

Transformative travel is not only about helping others, however, it’s also about helping oneself. Whether this means taking a much-needed break from the office and checking that dream destination off your bucket list or getting in touch with your spiritual side, wellness retreats are expected to boom this year. Trip planners should consider starting mornings off with a yoga or meditation session, and propose adding outdoor activities like guided hikes or biking to their client’s itinerary. 

With a prominence being placed on the importance of self-care, wellness retreats and activities in nature are now on the rise

6. Country Coupling

Gone are the days of hopping from one country to another simply because of their close geographical proximity to each other (I’m looking at you, Europe). Now-a-days, the hot trend is coupling unusual pairings of destinations to get more out of the overall travel experience. This means a traveller might book a trip to, say, a mountainous location for a few days of hiking and adventure then switching to a beach destination for some Triple S travel (sun, sand & sea).

The MICE industry is mirroring this trend, especially as retreats grow longer in length. Many groups are kicking-off their retreats in an urban location for a day or two before moving to a more remote getaway. The country coupling trend bodes very well for trip planners, who are now gaining more flexibility in their programming and the ability to stretch their creativity across multiple destinations.

Spend a day of two in a bustling metropolis before heading out to relax on the beach