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When choosing a destination for a client’s 2020 vacation, the savviest advisors know that it’s not one-size-fits-all operation (especially when bucket lists are always evolving). Here’s what to keep in mind when choosing a locale for even the choosiest of travelers next year.
Japan and Italy Will Remain FrontrunnersItaly — the land of pizza, pasta and amore — seems to have an eternal shelf life. Virtuoso reports that the country will once again be the top global destination for its members in 2020, and Virtuoso advisor Alyse Cori, owner of Travelwize, predicts it will hold that top spot for years to come.
However, expect clients to request less frequented areas, such as the Puglia region and Sicily, says Melanie D’Souza, a travel consultant at Divine Destination Weddings & Honeymoons and a member of Signature Travel Network.
Meanwhile, Japan — Travel + Leisure’s top destination last year — continues to hit its stride. The Land of the Rising Sun landed spots on “must-go in 2020” lists released by tour operators Red Savannah and G Adventures, in addition to those from Lonely Planet, Virtuoso and Signature.
Keep an eye out for expanded supplier offerings in Japan next year. Classic Vacations recently added the country to its Asia portfolio; Avanti Destinations launched new FIT experiences; and G Adventures released a Japan Family Journey with National Geographic for 2020. Avanti and Japan National Tourism Organization have partnered to launch a 2020 e-brochure to promote less touristed areas, while Ignacio Maza, executive vice president for Signature, has his eye on Hokkaido Island. Lonely Planet gives a nod to the Tohoku region.
Overtourism Is Still Top of MindMoving clients away from heavily visited destinations combats overtourism and allows travel advisors to keep business fresh, says Shannon Stowell, CEO of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA).
As such, industry experts are encouraging travelers to visit emerging locales such as Rwanda and Namibia in Africa; Brazil and Guyana in South America; Croatia in Europe; Jordan in the Middle East; St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean; and the North and South poles.
Of note are the polar destinations — Antarctica, the Arctic and Greenland — which are “drawing more attention as people are curious about climate change and its impact,” said Christina Beckmann, senior director of strategy and impact for the ATTA.
Country Coupling Extends a VacationSuggest clients explore multiple countries at once, a concept Virtuoso dubs “country coupling.” According to Virtuoso’s 2020 Luxe Report, this trend “mixes locales that are trending, especially ones with surprising combinations; the focus is on varied experiences that enrich the trip with each stop.”
Abercrombie & Kent’s new Limited Edition Marco Polo Journeys for 2020, for example, offers two noteworthy combos: Japan and South Korea, which focuses on the regions’ histories and modern discovery; and Bilbao, Spain, and Bordeaux, France, which specializes in a cultural and culinary exploration.
Don’t Discount Domestic DarlingsWorld Tourism Organization data identifies the U.S. as the No. 1 top tourism earner in the world, bringing in some $214 billion in international tourism receipts.
It’s also a great option for U.S.-based clients curious about the offerings in their own backyard.
Theme parks are top contenders for family clients, along with New York City, the California coast (Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco) and Denver, according to new research from the Family Travel Association.
And although these destinations are likely to remain popular across all age groups, many up-and-coming U.S. cities deserve some attention, too, says Signature’s Maza.
One destination he’s keeping an eye on? Detroit.
“Here is a city that once was one of America’s top five metropolitan areas, and after falling on hard times, is rising like a phoenix,” Maza said. “You can keep going to the same places over and over, or you can go to Detroit and be surprised, delighted and impressed.”