New decade, new you - which of these trends will shape your 2020 travel plans?

2019-09-03 14:50 - Selene Brophy
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Gabi Zietsman

As the decade is set to turn, the year 2020 holds some interesting travel trends. 

And let's face it travel trends come and go. By no means should they be the only defining factor when it comes to your travel plans. They are however interesting to note, since it does shape the influx of choices and offerings out there for you, the traveller.  

From expanding flight routes, the impact of Gen Alpha on the travelling habits of families, to the ever-mindful need to be sustainable in our choices - these are just a few of the trends surfacing as we head into 2020. And we're really just getting started on this - having just bubbled-up these destinations to add to your wanderlust list in 2020. 

READ: Your 2020 trips to take list that will make you wish you had unlimited leave

So if you haven't already - don't forget to sign-up for our weekly Traveller24 newsletter so you don't miss out on our deep-dive, destination planning guides, as well travel tips and trends.

Expanding Flight Routes

Having a wider access to destinations not only means better choice, but it intrinsically should see more competitive pricing for travellers - especially when it comes to air travel.

United Airlines is launching a new non-stop route between the US and Cape Town, from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, New York. This new flight will provide passengers with the only nonstop service between the United States and Cape Town from December 2019, shaving four hours off the usual transatlantic journey. It is being seen as a "game-changer” route as North America was one of the largest unserved markets for Cape Town and the Western Cape.  

Alitalia has upped connectivity between SA and Europe, re-launching its Johannesburg to Rome route after initially cutting the long-haul service about 17 years ago. The flight is also key to the European summer season planning, with the point to point connectivity being a night flight – arriving in the morning in both OR Tambo and Rome Fiumicino Airport. Added to that, the Italian Tourism Board is developing niche programmes for SA travellers, encouraging them to explore Italy beyond the main, popular cities such as Rome, Milan and Venice.   

Similarly Latam is giving its SA route a boost with the launch of the new Airbus 350 on the route between Johannesburg and Brazil. With an estimated 160k passengers having made use of the service since the launch in 2016, with three weekly flights, then increased to five flights per week in 2017 – the airline is now doubling its capacity with the launch of the new aircraft - connecting two strategic regions that have a lot to offer both tourists and business travellers - with the increased load set to influence pricing positively.    

PICS: Jozi's newest hotel is an inner-city sanctuary in Strathavon

Second City Travel 

This trend might seem obvious, especially if you're a regular traveller - and yet it may not.

In South Africa's situation it means locals would opt for Durban instead of Cape Town - international tourists too, opting to explore more of the Wild Coast instead of heading to the pricier tourist hot-spots would be a good example.

Then there is also the idea that you don't have to stay in the main city centres - as the share-economy creates an exceptional offering of accommodation choices when it comes to lesser-known suburbs and towns in and around these hot spots that are worth exploring. Take Joburg's Parkhust with its vibey 4th avenue steampunk culture or Linden, a charming and leafy suburb sitting on the foothills of Northcliff Hill. 

Taking this concept international, there is much to be said for visiting Portugal's sun-kissed capital.  It's affordable for South Africans at the best of times as one of Europe’s top value-for-money destinations, with new Qatar flights launched on June 24th to Lisbon. 

But your Mediterranean escape should not be limited to the city of Lisbon. The Travel Corporation data indicates that "favourite holiday choices in Portugal for South African travellers are located far beyond the city limits". 

In recent years there has been extraordinary growth in the number of South Africans who choose Portugal, and indeed Spain. Opt for a beach holiday in Portugal’s Algarve - an ideal kid-friendly spot too. Added to this foodie travellers can delight in offerings of Porto - which also has its own Camino route offering.  

WATCH: Why you should visit this Portuguese island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean


 Stop-over destination travel

Driving this trend is Singapore's Changi Airport. The lifestyle complex that is Jewel at Changi International Airport will change the way you view airports. Forever. 

Frequent travellers or even those who have had the unfortunate, often money-saving experience of a long, long layover know the drudgery of an almost-deserted airport with nothing but the odd airport cleaner and vending machine for company. 

Before the opening of the 135 700 sqm Jewel complex earlier in May, Changi was a formidable airport in its own right. Now with the many attractions of the Jewel, built on the site of the former Terminal 1 open air carpark, a stop-over in the future-centric destination such as Singapore is well worth it. 

Airlines are also helping to cement this by offering layover travellers benefits like a hotel stay when it exceeds a specific length of time - this is true for the likes of Dubai and Turkey. Turkish Airlines offers you a five star hotel for two days on Business Class trips, and a four star hotel for one day on Economy Class trips when stopping over for more than 20hrs. 

Emirates have partnered with a range of attractions to offer travellers exclusive rates to hot spots across Dubai, including special rates for City Sightseeing Dubai so you can explore the city’s diverse areas by hop-on, hop-off bus. But don't feel bound to the city's attractions, head out to the surrounding sand dunes on a desert safari. 

Quick itineraries: What to do on an 8 vs a 13-hour layover in Istanbul


The influence of Gen Alpha on family travel 

Research by Expedia suggests the younger Generation Alpha are increasingly influencing travel decisions. Despite being born in 2010 and after - this young digital natives generation plays an active role in family travel inspiration and planning; they’re influencing trip decisions for the entire family. They've grown up with Instagram and the iPad (which both also debuted in 2010), so this generation are already tech power-users. 

They're also "predicted to become the richest, longest-living and most well-educated generation by the time its numbers reach close to two billion by 2025".  

It means families are taking more trips a year, as much as three, says Expedia - with more detailed planning and focus going into keeping the family happy and entertained all the while checking off major attractions and theme parks as they grow-up. This means families are prone to exploring their home-country more as trip and holiday frequencies increase.

This trend also sees the need to have something for everybody when it comes to holiday and accommodation choices, even more than before. But overall this group of travellers are finding that experience certainly beats expense at the end of the day. 

WATCH: SA road trips kids should experience before they grow up

READ: Low-income South Africans shouldn't be excluded from travelling - Minister of Tourism ahead of Sho’t Left Travel Week


A travel trend we expect to see continuing for the new year. Similar to the increase in trips for families, travel trends show that travellers are looking to pack more shorter trips into a year than just one or two epic ones.

It also boils down to affordability - making the short, yet experience-rich break really appealing. Ever considered a border-crossing ski break to Lesotho for example? 

Long-weekends lend themselves so well to bespoke experiences, which can cost a lot less with the proper planning.

Feeding into the managing your aspect is South African Tourism's annual #TravelWeekSA, which will run between 23-29 September this year. It is dedicated to offering South Africans travel discounts during Sho’t Left Travel Week - showcasing travel deals with airlines, hotel groups, tour operators and tourist attractions offering discounts of up to 50% expected. 

These deals must be bought during this week but can be redeemed at any other time depending on the partner’s terms and conditions. 


Nature Travel  

This one will continue to shape our travel trends for decades to come. If not, we might not have the actual luxury of exploring far-flung, natural destinations - but we're not into panic, although this UN Climate Change report that shows close to 1 million species are at risk should quicken something within. research shows that "over half (55%) of global travellers report being more determined to make sustainable travel choices than they were a year ago", but barriers include a "lack of knowledge and available or appealing options when trying to put this into practice".  

Although the report does highlight the barriers that exist for travellers to make informed choices, with a large portion of travellers saying they're not entirely sure how to make their travel more sustainable - it certainly puts the onus on the industry to make their efforts more recognisable and visible.

It cements the concept of green travel accolades mattering more - as travellers are starting to weigh how their money spent on the activity or stay contributes to improving the lives of those involved in hospitality and tourism on the ground.

READ: SA's Tourism Grading Council has 17 new accolades coming into effect: Here's what you should look out for

 Luxury Rail Travel

With our fast-pasted lifestyles rail travel speaks about taking things slower. Much slower, especially when it comes to luxury sleeper trains.

With a number of upgrades taking place across some of the world's most esteemed lux trains, it really makes exploring exotic and exciting destinations at a different pace that much more appealing - from Europe's most esteemed Orient Express to India's high-end Maharajas Express.

The Trans-Siberian Express sleeper train - running from Moscow to Vladivostok - has been revealed as the best value sleeper train with the lowest cost per mile. So, if you’re looking for a sleeper train that won’t break the bank when getting from A to B, the best value route is said to be this one according to On the Go Tours

Our home-grown Blue Train has also been looking at ways to make this aspiration travel experience more accessible to locals. As the only passenger rail service run by Transnet, with all other rail services operated by Prasa, the iconic 'five-star hotel on wheels' is an exclusive, world-renown offering. For over 65 years the legendary train has been carving its niche in the world’s luxury rail experiences - really putting it in a class all its own.

The Blue Train also travels to South Africa’s Limpopo Province, which is home to the Kruger National Park, one of the world’s finest game parks, and home to Africa’s Big Five. 

And while not a moving train exactly but certainly an overnight stay with a difference - the Shalati Train Bridge hotel is something worth looking forward to - from old and run down to chic and luxurious, the new Kruger stay looks like the ultimate bush experience.   

READ: When you manage a hotel that is a train on a bridge in Kruger, dreaming up crazy ideas are the norm

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