COVID-19 has transformed the way we live and work – and it has clearly had a huge impact on our ability to travel. Now, with vaccine distribution starting, many of us are thinking about venturing out into the world again. While no one knows for sure what 2021 will bring, experts are making predictions about what travel might look like. From secluded getaways and a focus on wellness to attending more in-person business events, here are some of the top travel trends for the New Year.
A preference for privacy.
With family time becoming a rare occasion due to pandemic restrictions, more travelers will opt to spend time with close friends and loved ones rather than large groups of strangers. Private tours in 2021 will limit close contact with outsiders and give families the opportunity to make up for missed holidays, birthdays, and weddings. Social distancing also has led many of us to crave room to breathe. The need for seclusion is expected to put isolated villas and rural locations and resorts high on travelers’ wish lists.
Dreams of international destinations.
Travel restrictions forced countless U.S. travelers to cancel or rebook plans in 2020, but many added international destinations to their future travel lists. While access may be limited right now, the world’s most sought-after destinations continue to captivate consumers. According to vacation rental search engine HomeToGo, destinations with the largest increase in search interest include Aruba; Santorini, Greece; St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands; Bali; and Naples, Italy.
A focus on wellness travel.
With wellbeing and immunity more important than ever, there is a rise in demand for holidays that encourage a healthy lifestyle. Travelers will be looking for targeted wellness retreats and packages designed to rejuvenate their bodies and minds.
The rise of the “workation.”
With working from home and flexible hours becoming the new norm, there is a growing desire for longer-term changes of scenery. Offering benefits to mental health and productivity, travel and hospitality businesses are responding to this “workation” trend with “workathon” packages – mid- to long-term stays with perks that invite both work and play.
Declines in corporate travel bookings.
Travel buyers are expecting significant declines in corporate travel in 2021 (one survey estimates a drop of anywhere from 25% to 70%.) Among the top conditions cited for organizations to permit a return to business travel are World Health Organization confirmation that travel is permitted and no quarantine either in the country of origin or the destination.
The return of in-person business meetings.
Despite advancements in technology, business travel trends indicate there is no substitute for face-to-face interactions. A Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) poll hints at a positive outlook for 2021, with nearly half of companies expecting employees to start attending in-person events in the first half of the year. An additional 25% expect a return to in-person events in the second half of 2021.
A shift in business travel markets.
New countries are taking bigger shares of the business travel market. More corporate travelers are flying to India and Indonesia, and Sweden and Norway also are becoming popular destinations. However, China will continue to dominate the business travel market with a projected annual spend of $129 billion by 2022.
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that we need to be flexible and well-prepared – especially when it comes to travel. While health and safety will remain top priorities, expect travel in 2021 to be far more exciting as the world slowly recovers.