While holiday plans for most people were thrown into disarray this year due to the Covid-19 crisis, the “big overseas trip” is topping lists for 2021 and the year, according to a new report by Kuoni in the UK.

Enquiries and bookings for departures more than a year out are well ahead of where they’d usually be at this point, according to the travel company, as people anticipate a return to more normal life beyond the pandemic.

The report reveals saving and upgrading is a trend as people pull out all the stops to make next year’s holiday “extra special” with the average spend per booking rising by £683 from £8,549 in 2019 to £9,231 for 2021, based on advance bookings so far. 

Kuoni reports seeing more people upgrade their holiday for next year with business class, helicopter transfers and extra experiences such as hot air balloon flights.    

The Maldives tops the list of long-haul destinations in demand, given a boost by being granted a travel corridor but also buoyed by more direct flights and the appeal of isolated retreats with private pool villas which lend themselves perfectly to safe, away-from-it-all bubble accommodation.

The Seychelles also makes the list of wish list destinations, with direct flights and a travel corridor it’s proving to be a big winner for next year with couples looking for a castaway vibe.   

Safari trips are also in demand for those dusting down their bucket lists.  Kenya is a trusted favourite for couples and families looking for soul-nourishing experiences for the post-pandemic world with new camps and wildlife experiences boosting bookings.  Botswana enquiries are also building as it is just the type of big-ticket wildlife holiday garnering interest not just for next year, but also 2022.

Closer to home, demand is rising for trusted favourites Italy and Greece, which are both enjoying an upswing in bookings for Summer 2021 as well as special occasion trips.   

Although Thailand’s borders remain closed for now, Kuoni is anticipating strong demand particularly for winter next year.   Offering exceptional value for money and diverse experiences it is a great long-haul choice for families and couples and one that works equally well for some serious and stylish upgrading.

The Caribbean is also proving a winner, particularly for the early months of next year, with the picture-perfect island of Antigua trending as the top island of choice.    Already “open” for travel with a clear health test pre-travel, it’s proving popular because of its direct flights and luxury, yet great value hotel, options.

Bali makes the list as well, particularly for couples planning summer weddings next year as it’s one of the few long-haul destinations whose peak weather dovetails with the British summer, making it a particularly good choice for honeymooners.  Kuoni reports strong interest for 2021 trips.

Sri Lanka, which was selling well before the pandemic, is also expected to see demand return next year.   As a year-round destination, Kuoni has added more options on the wild and unspoilt east coast, meaning it is already boosting its appeal to anyone looking for a summer trip as well.

Finally Japan, which was in high demand before the pandemic,  remains very much part of the zeitgeist.  Although the country has yet to re-open to visitors, there are early signs that it is set to return as a favourite buck-list choice.   Enquiries have come in steadily over the past few weeks.

Derek Jones, CEO Kuoni, said:  “Travel plans have been put on hold this year along with so many other parts of our life but there is a determination out there to make next year’s holiday one to remember.   Our phone lines are busy with new enquiries to places like Greece, Italy, The Maldives, Antigua and Kenya which are trusted favourites as well as adventurous multi-centre itineraries to destinations such as Botswana, Japan, the Seychelles, Thailand and Sri Lanka.”

We’re seeing two types of travellers emerge, those who are prepared to book and travel at short notice and those who are planning much further ahead, aiming to travel in a year’s time or more – they’re enjoying  making plans and are excited about the idea of heading off to see the world again.”

Top destinations for travel in 2021:

  1. The Maldives
  2. Italy
  3. Kenya
  4. Seychelles
  5. Greece
  6. Antigua
  7. Thailand
  8. Botswana
  9. Bali
  10. Sri Lanka
  11. Japan

The full report is available to download here.

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