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2020 Travel Trends: Where to Go and What to Do in the Year Ahead

2020 Travel Trends: Where to Go and What to Do in the Year Ahead

When it comes to analyzing travel trends, Expedia® has a leg up. Being one of the world’s largest online travel brands means being able to uncover themes across flights, hotel stays, searches and bookings, and even experiences – all in the pursuit of arming explorers with everything they need to know to navigate the year ahead. Based on a robust analyses of US traveler data, Expedia’s 2020 Trends in Travel highlights:

  • The fastest-growing destinations around the world 
  • Hidden gem beaches both near and far 
  • The rise of natural wonders and college towns 
  • Top-selling experiences and attractions 

Read on for a selection of predictions and trends below and view the full 2020 Trends in Travel report here.

The New Top 10 

Expedia’s analysts scoured the list of fastest-growing destinations to identify the countries that had the most cities trending based on flight demand. The result: A brand-new bucket list-worthy of a new decade.  

“When we looked at where travelers went in 2019, we saw that the biggest growth in demand was happening for destinations that aren’t the usual tourist hotspots,” said Christie Hudson, Head of PR for Brand Expedia North America. “For example, instead of Venice or Rome, the top trending Italian destinations were in Sardinia and the Italian Riviera. We hope this report shines a light on new places to explore and inspires people to start planning their travel for 2020.” 

1.Spain & Canary Islands 

This European locale boasts a whopping 13 trending cities, but they’re far from its usual suspects. Barcelona and Madrid were downright eclipsed by beachy Ibiza, Balearic capital Mallorca and historic Oviedo and Alicante.

Where to go: Ibiza (+50%), Palma de Mallorca (+35%), Alicante (+30%), Oviedo (+30%), Seville (+15%), Madrid (+15%), Jerez de la Frontera (+10%), Tenerife (+10%)

2. Canada 

The U.S.’s northern neighbor was far and away the champion of this year’s trend report, occupying
15 of the top 20 spots on our list with nearly all posting year-on-year triple-digit increases. Whether it was the favorable exchange rate, the draw of friendly citizens or the great outdoors, Americans are clearly quite fond of Canada.

Where to go: Winnipeg (+465%), Saskatoon (+425%), Regina (+400%), Calgary (+385%), Halifax (+365%), Ottawa(+340%), Victoria (+270%), Toronto (+265%), St. John’s (+170%), Vancouver (+145%), Quebec City (+125%)

3. Peru

While Peru might be synonymous with Machu Picchu for some, one glimpse of the less-famous but equally impressive archaeological sites in Trujillo, colonial architecture of Lima and White City of Arequipa will have you researching airfare within seconds.

Where to go: Trujillo (+35%), Lima (+15%), Arequipa (+5%), Iquitos (+5%)

4. Japan 

All eyes will be on Tokyo next summer, but our data shows that interest in the country has already picked up, and it’s not just centered around Japan’s largest city.

Where to go: Naha/Okinawa (+45%), Sapporo (+40%), Tokyo (+20%), Osaka (+20%)

5. Italy 

If you thought Italy started and ended with Florence, Rome and theAmalfi Coast, this year’s trends are determined to prove you wrong. From Sardinia to the Italian Riviera, there’s clearly much more to explore.

Calabria, Italy

Where to go: Cagliari (+40%), Genoa (+5%), Olbia (+5%), Calabria (+5%)

6. Australia

Who’s afraid of the bigbad 20+ hour flight? Apparently notAmerican travelers, who went the distance to experience all that Down Under had to offer this year.

Where to go: Sydney (+20%), Cairns (+20%), Adelaide (+15%), Melbourne (+10%), Gold Coast (+10%), Perth (+5%)

7. Mexico

While spots like Cancun and PV maintain their popularity, Mexico’s hidden gem beachesand culture-rich cities are officiallyhaving a moment as well.

Where to go: Campeche (+95%), Oaxaca (+60%), Puerto Escondido (+50%), Puerto Vallarta (+30%), Mexico City (+30%), San Jose del Cabo (+25%), Cancun (+25%)

Oaxaca, Mexico

8. Portugal

Portugal might be the most predictable destination on the list this year, but just like Croatia before it, the demand shows no signs of letting up.

Where to go: Porto (+55%), Faro (+35%), Lisbon (+10%)

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9. Brazil

Brazil dropped its requirement for U.S. citizens to obtain a tourist visa earlier this year, so it seems safe to say that demand will continue to grow in 2020.

Where to go: Fortaleza (+35%), Iguazu Falls (+10%), Sao Paulo (+10%)

10. India

The cities seeing the biggest year-over-year growth in India tell a story of leisure and industry. The country’s loveliest beach destination leads the pack, followed by more business-oriented locales.

Where to go: Goa (+25%), Ahmedabad (+15%), Delhi (+15%), Kolkata (+10%)

Paradise Found

Beach vacations are one of the most popular trips for travelers, and it seems Americans will stop at nothing in search of the perfect stretch of sand. The fastest- growing beach destinations based on hotel demand highlight a desire for the new, novel and not-to-be- missed. Take note, because we may see an increasingly high number of travelers frequenting these far-flung beaches in 2020.

Tahiti, Polynesia
  1. Ras Al Khaimah, UAE (+255%)
  2. BorocayIsland, Philippines (+250%)
  3. Positano, Italy (+130%)
  4. Nadi, Fiji (+125%)
  5. Budva, Montenegro (+120%)
  6. Phuket, Thailand (+100%)
  7. Tahiti, French Polynesia (+90%)
  8. Canggu, Indonesia (+80%)
  9. Nosara, Costa Rica (+75%)
  10. Thassos, Greece (+65%)

Hidden Caribbean

The data proves the Caribbean remains a go-to destination for Americans in search of a warm beach vacation closer to home. And with more than 7,000 islands to choose from, the hardest part about planning a Caribbean escape is narrowing it down. Our report does the work for you. Whether it’s authentic island culture or quiet, uncrowded beaches our list of up-and-coming Caribbean destinations, based on hoteldemand, has a little something for everyone.

Villa, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
  1. Philipsburg, Sint Maarten (+215%)
  2. Black Rock, Trinidad and Tobago (+170%)
  3. Falmouth, Jamaica (+150%)
  4. Villa, St. Vincent & the Grenadines (+115%)
  5. Rockley, Barbados (+105%)
  6. Soufriere, St. Lucia (+100%)
  7. Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (+95%)
  8. The Exumas, Bahamas (+90%)
  9. St-Barthélemy, St-Barthélemy (+70%)
  10. Noord, Aruba (+70%)

Chasing Waterfalls

Dip your toe in new waters by straying from the rivers and lakes you’re used to. Our data reveals many travelers are literally chasing the world’s most breathtaking waterfalls. Topping the list is Niagara Falls, which has long been a symbol of natural power and beauty attracting millions of visitors each year. Other must-see falls from South America toNew Zealand prove these majestic natural wonders inspire us to travel thousands of miles, take boat rides and even hike through rainforests to glimpse a view.

Bridalveil Falls , Yosemite National Park
Niagara Falls

1. Niagara Falls, Ontario (hotel demand +45%)
2. Kaieteur Falls, Guyana (flight demand to Georgetown +30%)
3. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (hotel demand +25%)
4. Sutherland Falls, New Zealand (flight demand to Christchurch +20%)
5. Iguazu Falls, Brazil (flight demand +10%)
6. Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park (hotel demand +10%)

US Trend: College Towns from Coast to Coast

Small college towns close to outdoor recreation had quite the showing on our domestic trending list. Maybe it’s because where you’ll find university students, you’ll often also find a great craft beer and coffee scene, lively bars and nightlife, and unpretentious locals. Add to that a nearby hiking or biking trail, and what’snot to like?

Gainesville, Florida
  1. Cedar City, Utah (+100%) – Home to Southern Utah University, and one hour from Zion National Park, Cedar City also boasts an annual Shakespeare festival. 
  2. Flagstaff, Arizona (+85%) – Home to Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff is a unique mix of strong brews, great cycling and bluegrass. 
  3. Bend, Oregon (+65%) – Bend is home to an OSU branch campus and is heaven for the outdoors-lover. Whether your version of outdoor recreation means snow sports and kayaking or just drinking craft beer on a sunny patio, Bend is the perfect place for a long weekend. 
  4. Eugene, Oregon (+55%) – Ask any Duck and they’ll talk your ear off about how great Eugene is. Not hard to believe given it’s jam-packed with great restaurants, friendly, offbeat locals and tons of outdoor recreation options.
  5. Gainesville, Florida (+55%) – Home to the University of Florida, Gainesville is surrounded by wetlands, lakes and state parks galore, and is just an hour- or-so drive from three national forests. Plus, its still-prominent music scene gets major street cred for its ties to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. 

Things to Do: Robots, Ruins and Rollercoasters

We know that activities and attractions are more than just an add-on to a trip. Often, they’re one of the top considerations when travelers are choosing their destination and accommodations, and purchasing the tickets ahead of time makes trip planning easier. So, don’t just go somewhere in 2020 – have an experience. Here are some of the top-selling activities on Expedia for inspiration:

  1. Universal Studios Hollywood Admission (+350%)
  2. Robot Restaurant Show in Shinjuku, Tokyo (+220%)
  3. Chichén Itzá Admission, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico (+125%)
  4. The High Roller Observation Wheel in Las Vegas (+35%)
  5. San Diego Zoo (+15%)
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