Travel trends 2016
By Laura Gelder | December 2015 | 10 minute read
New flight routes, anniversaries and major events are just some of the reasons the following selection of destinations and travel product will be top of the class in 2016.
Botswana: As one of Africa’s most stable, progressive and democratic countries, the fact that Botswana celebrates 50 years of independence in 2016 is certainly a cause for celebration. The country’s biggest draw is its fabulous wildlife, which has been fiercely protected for over 50 years. A third of Botswana is designated as a ‘national park’ or ‘reserve’ and the army protects its endangered rhino population. Top areas to factor into a visit are the bird-watchers’ haven of the Okavango Delta; Chobe National Park, with its large population of elephants; and Makgadigadi/Naxi Pan, with its stark scenery.
Costa Rica: British Airways will begin a new direct scheduled service between Gatwick and San Jose in May 2016, making Costa Rica more accessible than ever. According to Kuoni’s Travel Forecast, British visitors to the Central American nation increased by almost 13% in 2015 but the added attraction of a direct flight is sure to further boost numbers. Costa Rica is a leading destination for eco and adventure tourism, with a quarter of the country comprised of national parks or protected areas. Its beaches, cloud and rainforest, volcanoes and coastlines (both Pacific and Caribbean) offer activities like hiking, canopy zip lining, diving and surfing.
Peru: Further south, Peru will also be firmly in focus – and again British Airways will play a leading role: the airline will introduce a direct flight between Gatwick and Lima in May. The service was made possible by improvements to the Jorge Chávez International Airport, which has almost doubled capacity. Although the iconic Macchu Picchu is still the country’s biggest draw, the capital is no longer just a jumping-off point and is enjoying increased interest thanks, in part, to its gastronomy scene. Other Peru draws include the Peruvian Amazon, the adventure sports and cultural towns around Cusco and the Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa city and the Colca Canyon and the Nazca Lines.
India: A new and far simpler e-visa system was introduced for UK citizens travelling to India this August – which is likely to have a positive impact on tourism for the country in 2016. Travellers no longer need to take a day off work for an appointment at the chaotic visa processing agency or go through a laborious postal application. The e-visa process should take around four days and travellers will be able to upload documents, pay the balance and track their application online. The price has also dropped – from £89.44 to £39.
Cruising in Asia: River cruising is enjoying a boom in this region, with many lines launching new ships on Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River and the Mekong River in Cambodia and Vietnam. Myanmar in particular is relying heavily on river cruising as its infrastructure and accommodation struggles to keep up with fresh and heavy demand from high-end tourism. Avalon Waterways UK has launched its first dedicated Asia brochure, featuring the Mekong and Irrawaddy, with departures available up to April 2017 to coincide with the first sailing of its new suite ship, the Avalon Myanmar. Agents should also consider the all-inclusive commission opportunities of India’s Brahmaputra and China’s Yangtze.Luxury ocean line Star Clippers has fresh itineraries around Phuket, Sri Lanka and Singapore next year – its first Asian routes since 2010. Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess will homeport in Singapore for the first time, sailing 10- to 14-day cruises to Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.
Iran: WTM’s Global Trends Report this year predicted the rise of Iran as a tourist destination, following the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office removing its “all but essential travel” advice to most of the country. The report cites Iran’s significant historic and cultural attractions as well as its lesser-known draws such as adventure tourism and skiing (the country has 19 ski resorts). There’s also the opportunity to indulge in hiking, mountain climbing and bird-watching. Regent Holidays reports that interest in travel to the country has already started to increase and has introduced a new train tour for 2016 which follows in the footsteps of Alexander the Great from Istanbul to Tehran. It will viait Cappadocia and Van in Turkey (passing through Kurdistan) before crossing into Iran to visit historic Zanjan, the desert city of Yazd, Isfahan, with its famous Islamic architecture, UNESCO World Heritage Centre Persepolis and Shiraz, the heartland of Persian culture.
USA’s National Parks: The USA’s National Parks Service celebrates its centennial next year and will do so with a raft of special events and activities across its 407 national parks, “engaging communities and visitors through recreation, conservation and historic preservation programmes”. USA-based escorted tour specialist Tauck has drawn up a list of its tours which specifically incorporate many of the parks. Tauck’s UK & Ireland Country Manager, Ray Steward, said: “We have been bringing guests to America’s national parks since 1925. Our partnerships within the parks are longstanding, providing our guests with exceptional access to guides, hotels in the heart of the parks, expert naturalists, conservationists, artists and more. We have access to ‘hidden’ places in the parks that only the locals know.”
St. Helena: Next year sees the opening of an airport on this remote South Atlantic island, currently only accessible by travelling one of the last working royal mail ships in the world, the RMS St. Helena. An Overseas Territory of the UK, St. Helena is situated 1,200 miles off the west coast of Africa: the journey by ship takes five days from Cape Town. The date for the first scheduled weekly flight from Johannesburg to St Helena, with Comair, is still to be confirmed but the official airport opening is slated for May 21, to coincide with St. Helena Day. Famous for being Napoleon Bonaparte’s final place of exile, the island’s fertile volcanic landscapes are a birdwatcher’s dream. It is also home to at least 40 species of endemic plants. Popular activities on offer include diving, fishing and whale watching to golf and hiking.
Atlantic Canada: Canada’s 46th and newest national park was announced this year, in the Mealy Mountains of Newfoundland and Labrador. At 10,700 square kilometres, the park will be the biggest in the eastern part of the country and more than twice the size of Canada’s smallest province. The vast space includes an extensive wildlife habitat, salmon rivers and a 50-kilometre sandy beach, as well as the glacially-rounded Mealy Mountains. Getting to Newfoundland and Labrador will be easier than ever from May next year when Canadian airline WestJet begins a new daily service between Gatwick and St. John’s, the easternmost city in Canada. The new flight will use the airline’s new Boeing 767 aircraft and will take around just four and a half hours.For those who prefer manicured outdoor spaces, Nova Scotia’s Cabot Cliffs, the Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore-designed sister course to Cabot Links, will open on Cape Breton Island in early 2016.
Sri Lanka: The country’s tourism board talked up its investment in the UK at this year’s WTM, revealing that it will be launching a roadshow for the trade some time in 2016. Since 2010, tourist arrivals have increased year-on-year, with British tourists regularly, and by some distance, coming second in terms of arrivals. The Sri Lanka Collection represents an assortment of boutique hotels and DMCs and has several new openings next year. The Fort Bazaar in Galle offers 18 rooms and suites, all with ensuite bathrooms, as well as a restaurant and bar, library, cinema, spa and 15-metre swimming pool. Also coming in 2016 – between February and April– is a collection of three tea planters bungalows in Sri Lanka’s hill country. Teardrop Estates’ three properties will be close to Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Ella. Each will have up to six rooms, a swimming pool, butler service, gourmet cuisine and scenic verandas overlooking manicured gardens.