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Travel Trends Report for 2020

by Mariette du Toit-Helmbold on 08.01.2020

A new travel era beckons

Predictions are that 2020 will mark significant shifts in the travel and tourism industry. Fuelled by technology and innovation, as well as a growing sense of responsibility and deeper connection with the people and places we visit, we are on the brink of a completely new travel era.

Previous years have been all about the perfect Instagramable destination, but as more and more  travellers look for a slower, more meaningful and deliberate way to travel, big changes are afoot. Travellers are expected to swap over-crowded, mainstream destinations with more unique and unknown places. There is also a tendency to invest in experiences they can learn from or that will not have a harmful impact on host destinations.

With a whole new generation of travellers coming of age (Gen Z – aged 10 to 25), there is a mass awareness of climate change. The devastating fires raging in Australia and other recent natural disasters are putting the spotlight on the fragility of our world and the terrible impact humans have on the planet.

This growing awareness of our contribution to climate change will be the single biggest catalyst of the transformation in travel behaviour. Simultaneously, it is also driving innovation through technology like never before. It might all be a little too little too late, but we can expect to see large and small travel operators and destinations make dramatic changes to their travel offering as consumers demand a more transparent and responsible travel experience.

There is no denying that people will continue to travel in the new decade and that we can expect tourism to continue growing, but one thing is sure, travel as we knew it is gone.

Of course, these changes will come in a variety of different shapes and forms – all driven by consumer demand. Below, we’ve summarised a few of the most relevant and significant travel trends that we believe will have the greatest impact on the travel industry in the new decade. 

Travel Trends 2020

Technology will make travel even easier.

According to’s 2020 travel predictions report, 59% of people want tech to offer them ‘wildcard’ and surprise options when they’re looking for places to visit. They predict that travellers will increasingly make use of and put their trust in applications offering new suggestions of destinations to visit, places to stay and things to do based on their current preferences, previous trips and key contextual factors such as weather and popularity.

Technology will also drive innovation towards a more sustainable and responsible travel industry as the awareness of humanity’s negative impact on our fragile world increases.

Travellers are swapping well-known destinations and cities with lesser-known places as a means of helping to curb over-tourism.

Up to 51% of respondents in the survey said they would swap travelling to their destination of choice if it meant they could contribute to reducing the negative impact of travel.

At Destinate Travel, we aim to encourage this by offering a variety of packages that allow travellers the opportunity to delve more deeply into the destinations they visit by connecting with locals and contributing to community/conservation efforts while at it. Our Iconic Cape Town and Creative Cape Town day tours are a perfect example of this. 

Travel will have its “fast fashion” moment this year as travel starts to move from quantity to quality for a certain type of consumer.

This could manifest in many ways: people giving themselves an upper limit of trips they will take during the year, considering the alternative ways they can get there before booking, or bundling work and leisure trips together to cut down on flights.

Travel has hitherto been largely exempt from conscious consumerism because actions like buying more organic vegetables or cycling to work have an additive on one’s quality of life — it’s aspirational. On the other hand, not going on vacation or forgoing business travel feels like a real sacrifice for affluent consumers. According to’s survey, 76% of Gen Z travellers say they would use more environmentally friendly means of transportation once they have arrived at their destination. Expect more frequent and shorter breaks closer to home with travellers opting for road or rail trips rather than long haul flights.

Thanks to Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg, the concept of flygskam, which translates as ‘flight shame’, will prompt responsible travellers to think more carefully about how often and where they fly to. As a consequence, the new decade will see many people turning to trains, buses, boats and cars instead of planes.

Here at Destinate, we’re big fans of the good old road trip and have put together a truly memorable itinerary for our self-drive Mpumalanga Getaway Package.

JOMO and SLOMO are the new FOMO.

As a growing number of travellers opt to be more present during their holidays, the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO) and slow travel (SLOMO) are quickly replacing the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) on what everyone else is doing.

The UK trade association for tour operators and travel agents has predicted that slow travel will be one of the top travel trends for 2020.

It says: “‘Slow travel’ is as much about enjoying the journey as it is the destination, and a less packed itinerary takes the pressure off having to visit all the usual tourist hotspots. With more time in one destination, it can potentially reduce the journey footprint and provide travellers with the chance to support more locally run businesses – resulting in a positive impact on the local economy and community.”

We are proud to partner with a variety of destinations, organisations and tour operators who encourage this slow and mindful approach to travel. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve and Marine Dynamics, both located in the coastal Overberg, stand out in this regard, offering their guests unforgettable eco-friendly and community-centred experiences.

Food, glorious food

As culinary experiences become an ever increasingly important part of a holiday, connecting travellers with the people and places they travel to, travellers will pivot their holiday plans around destination dining opportunities, looking to indulge before everyone else gets there first.

In South Africa, we’re seeing an increase in farm-to-table and foraging experiences, as well as travellers joining locals for home dining. Our Destinate Travel partner, Bites & Sites offers a variety of exceptional foodie adventures in the winelands, including the Classic Cape Cuisine Walking tour and Lunch with Locals in Kayamandi

For those interesting in gathering and cooking their own food in the wild, Veld and Sea’s foraging expeditions are an absolute must-do. You can book their Coastal Foraging Tour on the Destinate Travel site.

The female travel movement

There is no doubt that we’ve entered an era where women are embracing the freedom and empowerment of travel – whether solo, in groups of girlfriends or with family members.

According to the US Travel Association, in 2018, more than 11% of adult leisure travellers were solo women. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that 80% of all travel decisions and 92% of travel purchases are made by women too. For many women it is about leaving their comfort zones, looking for that once-in-a-lifetime adventure, or finding some solitude and getting away from the routine of daily life. As we enter this new decade, boomers, Gen X and millennial women are being joined by their dynamic Gen Z sisters and daughters.

We will be rolling out our Destinate Travel all-women tours to Portugal and South Africa this year before we introduce new destinations in 2021. The focus is on empowering women to have a more meaningful travel experience, connecting deeply with self, place and like-minded women. Read about why we think Portugal is the perfect destination for women to explore.

Other travel trends to keep an eye on 

Family and pets first. 2020 looks set to herald a new era in family and pet-centric vacations, as we’ll see travelers putting the needs of their loved ones and beloved pets well before their own when it comes to selecting where to go, where to stay and what to do.

Age-agnostic and “Grand” adventures. As the world gets younger and healthier, older travellers are opting for more adventurous and “younger” travel options. We also expect to see multi-generational travel increasing with a boost in the number of grandparents travelling with their grandkids.

Pair that with the fact that today’s older generation is healthier, more adventurous and more keen to stay young and active than ever before, we’ll see ‘grand’ vacations that offer an array of active experiences for both generations to take part in becoming even more popular in the year ahead. 2020 will see ‘retirement years’ become surprisingly synonymous with ‘adventurous travel planning’, as travellers will shift their mindset and start to plan big for their future golden years.

Business travel changes shape. ‘Micro-cations’ will be replacing weekend breaks as blesiure travel blurs the lines between business and leisure trips. This means that business travellers will increasingly add on a few days to try and see more of the destination and take a few days to relax and recoup.

The transformational holiday is here. Transformational travel is described as ‘intentionally travelling to stretch, learn and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world’ and Kristie Goshow, Chief Marketing Officer at Preferred Hotels & Resorts suggests it will “enable travellers to immerse themselves in the virtues of travel, be they emotional, social, physical or spiritual”.

Wellness retreats are gaining traction all over the world, as they offer travellers an all-inclusive break from the demands of daily life as well as an opportunity to nurture body and mind. As part of our Destinate Travel portfolio, we do all-women retreats that focus on deeper connections with self, place and others. Whilst they are not the traditional deprivation retreat, it is all about discovering the joy of travel and self-empowerment. Get in touch to find out more about these retreats.

Vegan travel. As increasing numbers of people choose to shun meat and animal products (a survey by Sainsbury’s in the summer of 2019 predicted that 25% of Brits would be vegetarian or vegan by 2025), demand for hotels which cater to that choice is going to accelerate. We’re seeing a similar tendency in South Africa and this demand has been met with an explosion vegan dining options throughout Cape Town and Joburg. In the new decade, we’re sure to see the establishment of more exclusively vegan overnight stay options – something Peace of Eden Vegan Eco Retreat is certainly leading the way in!

Travel is going electric. Emission-free flying sounds like an unattainable fantasy but the reality is that it’s just around the corner with Rolls-Royce planning to launch a test flight of its debut electric plane, ACCEL, in 2020 and Airbus’s experimental electric E-Fan X aircraft set to take off in 2021.

Nomadic hotels and glamping. Inspired by the rootless essence of camping, nomadic hotels will become a popular new addition to the travel landscape. These nomadic hotels emerge in different locations every few months, temporarily transforming extravagant private homes or giving guests an opportunity to stay in unusual or remote places. Whilst the ecological impact is low, the potential for local and rural development is significant. Here in South Africa, Thebe Tourism has already launched their pop-up hotel concept, allowing for seasonal, low impact travel experiences in unique locations like the West Coast during flower season and a few nights glamping in a dry river bed in the Kruger National Park. They will also launch a train hotel in the Kruger in 2020 that will take experiential travel to new heights.

As we enter this new decade of travel, we’re excited to see how the industry transforms and to be part of all the positive changes that are set to take place! We would love to hear your feedback, so get in touch and let us know what your expectations are for 2020 and the rest of the decade.

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