Key Travel Trends for 2021 – Straight from the Experts

The travel industry is keen to offer their expert opinions on the key travel trends for 2021 - from 'safecations' to touring the filming sites of the 25th James Bond movie, a couples break in the Faroe Islands to privates cruises in Italy AND travellers aged 50+ will be the first to travel again in 2021!

With 2021 clearly on the horizon, a Covid vaccine cleared for distribution and countries across the globe once again re-opening their borders – the travel industry keen to offer their expert opinions on the key travel trends for 2021.

From ‘safecations’ to touring the filming sites of the 25th James Bond movie, a couples break in the Faroe Islands to privates cruises in Italy AND travellers aged 50+ will be the first to travel again in 2021 – check out what the experts had to say would be some of the top travel trends in the coming year!

‘Safecations’ will continue to be a priority – Visit Faroe Islands

Expert: Levi Hanssen, Content & Communications Manager – Visit Faroe Islands

Forecast: “Social distancing and holidays in fresh air will continue to be popular in 2021. We don’t believe that COVID will curb people’s sense of adventure but, following 2020’s restrictions, there will be an increased desire to explore out-of-the-way and remote destinations like the Faroe Islands. We have a small population – just 50,000 – and our Coronavirus figures have – due to a strong testing regime – remained low.

“A number of exciting must-see developments in 2021 include the James Bond Sightseeing Tour, which visits places where the 25th Bond movie, ‘No Time to Die’, was filmed, new hotels in our modestly-sized capital, Tórshavn, and the new Eysturoy Tunnel – the second longest subsea vehicle tunnel in the world, and the only one with a roundabout! Other attractions include our first whisky and gin distillery – Faer Isles Distillery – amongst the most northerly distilleries worldwide.”

There will be resilience and a strong desire to travel amongst holidaymakers aged 50+ according to research by AITO, The Specialist Travel Association

Expert: Martyn Sumners, Executive Director, AITO

Forecast: “Holidays may have been put on hold for many in 2020, but the 50+ market is keen to travel again in 2021, and 66% will be spending the same or more money on holiday travel than they did in 2019. According to the AITO Travel Tracker study, a survey of customers of AITO’s 200+ tour operator and travel agent members, with 29,000 responses received at regular intervals throughout the pandemic.

“It helps that, for 68% of research participants, their household income will stay the same or increase over the next 12 months. AITO members are dedicated proponents of special interest holidays, and there is no sign of travellers shying away from the holidays they love. City breaks top the list of most popular specialist interest holidays, and travellers are also keen to book escorted group tours in 2021, to explore the history and culture of the destinations they visit.

“Social distancing will be important, of course, but there is a determination amongst the over 50s to travel again when they are ready, especially to short-haul destinations, and with the security of full financial protection.”

Staycations will continue to thrive, as we embrace the UK’s great outdoors – five-star spa hotel Seaham Hall, County Durham

Expert: Ross Grieve, Managing Director, Seaham Hall

Forecast: “The desire to holiday at home has never been stronger and, in 2021, there will be a thirst to explore the UK and all it has to offer.

“At Seaham Hall we have the luxury of space – 37 glorious acres – and being situated right on the Durham Heritage Coast (Seaham Beach is just a five-minute walk away) means that our guests benefit from the sea air, with effortless social distancing. 2021 will see more guests exploring our blissful rural surroundings, whether experiencing one of the many local cycle routes, or pulling on their hiking boots to enjoy the coastal footpath, an 11-mile stretch through spectacular grasslands and magical denes, from Seaham to Crimdon. Guests will take advantage of long-stay offers, too, to enjoy more local sites, including High Force waterfall, Hamsterley Forest’s 2,000 hectares of woodland, and the historic parkland of Hardwick Park in Sedgefield.”

Guests are staying at hotels for longer – Pride of Britain Hotels

Expert: Peter Hancock, Chief Executive

Forecast: “One positive side effect resulting from the many barriers to overseas travel this year has been a huge increase in leisure stays at our member hotels by UK residents. Since re-opening in July, we have seen year-on-year growth in the number and value of bookings every month. Furthermore, the average length of stay has risen from 1.6 days to 2 days (a 25% increase), and the average length of stay for bookings due to arrive in 2021 is 2.75 days.

“While the situation remains bleak in cities and in places that rely on corporate or events business, the picture in coastal and rural locations is really encouraging. For those hotels, longer stays offer a welcome boost to profitability, notwithstanding any future restrictions we may face.”

Travellers will stay closer to home; Italy and the UK will take the lead for 2021 – Jules Verne

Expert: Francis Torrilla – Managing Director

Forecast: “Like many other businesses, we are fortunate that a considerable number of our customers chose to defer their travel plans to 2021 rather than cancel them altogether. This skews the trend somewhat in favour of our 2020 predictions – as if someone had pressed the pause button for a year. But, if we look at new bookings taken since the crisis began in March, there’s a pattern of travelling closer to home, with around 80% of all new business travelling within a five-hour flight range.

Italy is storming ahead, with Lake Como and Sicily performing particularly well.  The UK (especially Scotland) will boom, with staycations set to increase, and Turkey will be the next beneficiary, with itineraries such as the Grand Tour of Turkey filling the gap that would normally be filled by destinations further afield. Egypt and Jordan also have bookings steadily picking up in 2021 and into 2022.”

Late bookings will be more prevalent, and using specialist tour operators for added security will be important – Kirker Holidays

Expert: Ted Wake, Director

Forecast: “The ongoing fluctuation of travel rules means that, if consumers can book and go – they should go, now! Late bookings will become much more commonplace, as will the use of specialist tour operators who can offer expert advice – and, crucially, flexibility and reassurance. Discerning travellers who have an appetite for culturally enriching, tailor-made short breaks will also want to seize the opportunity to visit Europe’s great cities while visitor numbers are greatly reduced, delivering once again the more authentic experiences that had been eroded by the increase in mass market tourism over the years.

“Our prediction is that local people will endeavour to preserve some of the magic that has been recreated during this time – enhancing experiences for their visitors, where they can now again wander tranquil streets, enjoy peace and quiet, and warm hospitality – something we’ve not seen since the 1950s.”

Guests are willing to travel further for a UK staycation than previously – Elite Hotels

Expert: Warren Elliott, Head of Marketing & Communications

Forecast: “We’ve noticed a booking trend of guests travelling from further afield to our hotels than was the case pre-COVID. With the long journeys and hassle of getting to the airport associated with international holidays, those travellers who are opting to stay in the UK for their break are using that freed-up time to travel further for a UK staycation. With ongoing uncertainty around travel abroad, we’re confident that this trend will continue well into 2021.

Workations are a viable option in our new WFH culture –

Expert: Matt Brayley, Marketing Director

Forecast: “As much as we appreciate the comforts of our own homes, living and working within the same four walls, week in, week out, can leave people with a sense of living at work, rather than working from home. A change of scenery is, to many, more welcome than ever. Almost 47% of those in employment are working from home, at least in part, according to the Office for National Statistics. And, as long as people are able to do their jobs remotely, many employers, in line with guidance, are happy for this to continue.

“Blending work with a proper break – a coastal walk at lunchtime, a morning run in the countryside, or perhaps splitting a week away between work time and holiday time – is now a viable option that can keep spirits high and leave people feeling refreshed.”

Guests are ordering off-menu – Eden Hotel Collection

Expert: Nick Hanson, General Manager, Mallory Court Country House Hotel & Spa

Forecast: “We are finding that guests are much more likely to order off-menu. If they are staying for two or three nights, we ask them if there is anything they would particularly like to eat, so that we can try to incorporate it into the Tasting Menu for them. Guests often like to substitute a white meat for fish, or red meat for white meat, and we are happy change the dish to suit this.

“On special occasions, we ask guests in advance if there is something they would particularly like to try on the Tasting Menu, and we work the menu around this.”

There will be a desire to go rural, reconnect with nature and to support local businesses – Sunvil

Expert: Rachel Jelley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Forecast: “Holidays without the hordes will be a popular choice for travellers in 2021, and there will be a stronger desire than ever to steer away from the usual tourist trails and crowded spots. There will be a need to reconnect with nature too, in a way that hasn’t been possible during lockdown. Destinations such as the Troodos Mountains in Cyprus, Amorgos in Greece and Swedish Lapland are perfect for these types of holidays, where there’s fresh air and plenty of space amongst the natural surroundings. The Azores, Central Portugal and rural Spain also offer an abundance of natural world wonders, wildlife and green space.

“People will also seek out rural properties in which to stay, opting for small communities in lesser-known destinations over and above the bigger resorts, where they can support small local businesses safely, while enjoying the notable lack of tourists.”

It’s all about seclusion – CV Villas

Expert: Christina Todd, Senior Product Manager

Forecast: “Villa holidays are understandably becoming more popular for the post-Covid traveller, and we’ve seen a big spike in bookings for properties offering more seclusion and security. Being remotely located, and with the stringent cleaning protocols CV Villas has put in place, these properties are Covid-secure, and offer wide open space and total privacy, away from the outside world.

“Furthermore, we can offer everything from a contactless rep service to grocery deliveries and meal kits. We’ve seen such strong interest in secluded properties that we’ve curated a selection of our very best remote properties, including hilltop Greek island retreats, regal French châteaux, charming converted stone farmhouses in Italy’s wine regions, and much more.

Stay longer with the wider family – GIC The Villa Collection

Expert: Rachel Jelley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Forecast: “Being separated from our loved ones was one of the toughest and most upsetting consequences of the pandemic. A holiday offers the ideal opportunity to spend quality time with one another, and we expect to see a trend developing for more people to go away with their wider families, across several generations, to really make the most of every minute together.

“There will also be a strong urge to make up for lost time by booking longer stays – we’ve already seen clients extend their two-week getaways to three weeks and longer. The other great thing about GIC holidays is that family members can arrive/depart on different dates and stay for different periods of time. We take care of it all, and it’s totally seamless for guests.”

See the Northern Lights in autumn – The Aurora Zone

Expert: Alistair McLean, Managing Director

Forecast: “Seeing the Northern Lights in autumn – before winter sets in – can be hugely advantageous. Temperatures are milder, daylight hours are longer and, perhaps more importantly to Aurora hunters, there is less cloud cover, which is crucial in terms of successfully viewing the Northern Lights.

“The period around the autumn equinox (22 September) is a well-kept secret and provides a scientifically greater opportunity of witnessing the elusive Aurora Borealis. Lakes are yet to freeze, providing the bonus of seeing the Northern Lights reflected in the water, known locally as a ‘double Aurora’, making them even more breath-taking. Demand for autumn lights trips has increased by 30% over the past two years.”