Cover Ceylon leopard lying on a wooden log and looking straight ahead

We ask industry experts for top trends that just may change the way you travel in 2020

A recent 2020 Travel Trend Report by leading online travel company Skyscanner reveals that Hong Kong travellers are becoming more interested in slow travel and transformative destinations that celebrate JOMO: the joy of missing out. As we approach a new decade, Hong Kong's travel experts share with us five more major travel trends that will help you plan the best holidays in 2020. 

1. Engage with locals

Savvy travellers will look for trips that broaden their horizons through authentic interactions with locals. Whether it’s learning a traditional skill, a hosted dinner or a wildlife encounter, travelling with the goal of learning, growing and engaging with the world inspires new perspectives that travellers can bring home with them.

“Transformative Travel goes one step further and purposefully attempts to put you in situations where you will learn something new, step out of your comfort zone or face a challenge,” says Andrea Oschetti, founder of Blueflower.

Where: Mongolia

Stay in a magnificent Mongplian ger (nomadic tent) with a family of nomadic Mongolian herders in breathtaking areas of the Mongolian steppe. You can engage in daily activities with the family, or challenge them to an archery match after an invigorating horse ride. If you visit in March, join in the festivities at the Golden Eagle Festival and learn how to fly an eagle from local falconers.

See also: Urban Escapes: Where To Find The Cleanest Air In Asia

2. Bleisure

The holiday hybrid of business travel and leisure travel has been on the rise for a while, and as work-life boundaries continue to blur, it makes sense to combine work with pleasure. This will take the form of business travellers working remotely and extending the business trip to explore the destination, either alone or with their family.

“In a time when business is 24/7 it’s hard for people to tap out of work completely,” says Lucy Jackson, co-founder and director of Lightfoot Travel. “However, unless you’re location-led for work hours there’s no need for the standard 9-5. Our guests tend to need access to WiFi to maintain a level of contact with their businesses which we can take care of during planning, alongside a host of ‘off the grid’ experiences for when the time comes for them to log off.”

Where: Shanghai

Business travellers should consider staying at an urban resort like Amanyangyun, just an hour from central Shanghai but already feels a world away from the bustling city. Soak up the history of 50 Ming- and Qing-dynasty villas and ten thousand trees relocated from rural Fuzhou. Allow your brain to take a break from work with cultural activities such as pottery, paper cutting and calligraphy, or rent a bike to explore the surrounding areas.

3. Table Scoring

Food is an inseparable part of travel as one of the most enjoyable ways to experience a culture. In 2020, travellers with demanding tastebuds will put their dining desires right at the forefront of their holiday planning. For many, deciding where and when to travel will depend on whether they can reserve a table at the most coveted restaurants. 

 “The demand for exploring the local cuisine when on holiday has grown exponentially over the past few years, “ explains Lucy. “We include many local food tours within our bespoke itineraries, but equally people are also looking for those ‘wow’ eating experiences in places that have a certain ‘brag-a-bility factor’. We’re happy to make reservations on our clients’ behalf, and often they’ll approach us with this request at the very start of booking their trip with us.”

Where: South Africa

A fixture on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list as “the best restaurant in Africa”, The Test Kitchen in Cape Town—with a three-month waiting list—is naturally the ultimate dining destination in South Africa. The seasonal tasting menu is guaranteed to surprise your palates with bold flavours, creative textures and excellent seasoning every time you visit. 

See also: 48 Hours In Cape Town, South Africa

4. Immersive Wellness

Wellness travel may be a well-established market, but a shift towards mental wellbeing means fitness and nutrition are replaced by mindfulness when travellers book a wellness getaway. With wellness retreats inspired by local traditions and cultural beliefs on the rise, people are encouraged to reconnect with nature and, as a result, reconnect with themselves. 

 “Wellness tourism is evolving and diversifying from its main pillars of ‘just’ healthy food and fitness activities,” explains Christina Mullet, head of wellness at Lightfoot Travel. “From forest bathing and beach yoga, to cacao ceremonies and fire blessings, 2020’s wellness trend is about connecting to nature and the unique cultural practices of the country visited.”

Where: Japan

A stay at Rice Terrace Villa Sasayuri-Ann in Nara is almost a spiritual experience, as guests can walk barefoot along ancient pilgrimage routes, meditate and bathe in onsen. You can also engage in other zen activities such as  ikebana flower arranging or listening to traditional Japanese bamboo flute.

See also: Winter In Asia: The Best Warm And Cold Destinations To Inspire Your Next Holiday

5. Undertourism

Forward-thinking travellers will be shun the major, well-known holiday destination choices for places that are smaller, less shouty, but still along the same lines as their more commercial counterparts.

Follow the route of "undertourism" and you will have some of the least discovered destinations all to yourself—no crowds, no queues. "Veering away from the usual and taking the pace down a notch means destinations we predict to be on the rise are those that are experience-rich, multifaceted countries that offer a wealth of opportunities to connect while you explore," says Sarah-Jane Radcliffe, General Manager of Jacada Travel, Asia Pacific.

"This may also mean picking a destination that needs your support, such as Sri Lanka," adds Lucy. "For the ultimate in this trend, we recommend travelling out of peak season, too.”

Where: Sri Lanka

Sigiriya and beach towns in Sri Lanka are popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka, but you’ll see a different side of the country at Gal Oya National Park. One of Sri Lanka’s least visited national parks due to its remoteness, it’s one of the best places to spot Sri Lankan Leopards, elephants and other vibrant wildlife. Stay at Gal Oya Lodge, a sustainable luxury lodge featuring eco-friendly chalets and villas in the wilderness. 

See also: Beat The Winter Blues: 5 Warm Holiday Destinations For Christmas

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.