Cover Vancouver, Canada is among the most popular destinations with Hong Kong travellers for 2021 (Photo: Getty Images)

Industry experts reveal the most popular destinations that travellers from Hong Kong are booking for 2021, and the key travel trends that we can look forward to when boarders re-open and quarantine restrictions are lifted

One of the best things about living in Hong Kong is its close proximity and the convenience of travel to countless other destinations in Asia. While Hong Kongers are well-versed in hopping on a plane for a quick weekend trip or heading further afield for summers spent out of the city, 2020 has hit different, with the onset of Covid-19 pressing pause on travel plans for many.
While countries across the globe have been affected by the pandemic, in recent weeks we have slowly seen many destinations return to some kind of normal, with countries in Europe re-opening for keen summer tourists. Though sadly, with the third wave of the coronavirus in Hong Kong meaning that strict border restrictions and quarantine measures are still in place, travel is still not a reality for us. 
Though safety is a priority for now, we’re still looking forward to our future travel plans––and it seems that we’re not alone––a recent poll carried out by Skyscanner revealed that 88% of Asia Pacific travellers believe it will be safe to travel within six months. Cyndi Hu, Asia Pacific Skyscanner director and consumer travel expert notes that “whilst overall travel demand is still lower than normal for this time of year due to the pandemic, we are seeing some promising initial signs of intent in our searches and booking data for regional and international travel from Hong Kong”.
We spoke to the experts in the world of luxury travel to find out the destinations that are set to be popular in 2021, along with the kinds of trips keen travellers are already booking.

Family first

With Covid-19 hindering international travel for an unforeseen amount of time, by 2021, many around the world may have not seen their family members in almost a year. As a result of this, our experts believe that seeing family will be a top priority once restrictions ease.
Andrea Oschetti, founder of luxury travel company Blueflower states that “I believe that the first trip for many of us will be to go visit our loved ones, mainly in Europe and North America. We have been asked by clients for short experiences in England, United States and Canada.”
Data from Skyscanner also reflects this trend, with recent research showing London as the number one destination currently being booked for travel in 2021. Destinations such as Vancouver are also in the top 10, with Cyndi adding “Vancouver has risen in popularity which might suggest that reunions with families and friends are on the list of priorities once travel fully resumes, with a large community of Hong Kong expats living in Canada.”

Bespoke luxury tour operator, Lightfoot Travel have also seen this trend in bookings, with reunions not only taking place on home turf, but families looking to travel together as a group. Co-founder and director of Lightfoot Nico Heath explains “The distance that the pandemic has caused between loved ones has also seen a spurred interest from multi-gen groups looking to travel together. In cases such as this, groups of families are opting for more Covid-protected stays in luxury villa destinations such as Sri Lanka, Greece or Bali. Villas are a brilliant option for individuals looking to limit those they come into contact with, and they also act as a great base for large get-togethers and celebrations.”

Secluded stays

In line with the growing popularity for villa bookings, Nico also notes that Lightfoot are “seeing an increased interest in people wanting to visit more remote, off-the-beaten-path destinations in 2021. In addition, private islands are also proving popular with travellers who are looking for a gentler style of adventure closer to home paired with unbeatable luxury. Private islands in Asia including Bawah Reserve (Indonesia), Song Saa Private Island (Cambodia) and Amanpulo (Philippines) tick all the boxes.”
The want for privacy isn’t hard to understand, with Nico explaining that “In a Covid-19 world, nearby private islands offer relaxation and exclusivity, but with the added reassurance for guests that they’re in a safe space with carefully controlled numbers.”
Andrea also states that Blueflower has seen “a significant uptake in demand for all things private” in the new climate. Continuing, he states that this demand includes “Jets, villas, yachts––even some of my favourite boutique hotels are offering buyouts––travellers are emphasising their need for privacy and staying inside a bubble.” 

"The trend towards private villas and yachts will continue well beyond 2021", continues Andrea. "Remote properties that are surrounded by nature will also find favour among travellers, especially those in destinations that have handled the pandemic well and have reliable data, as well as readily accessible health services: New Zealand is the top example. However, we should not discount some properties that deserve the attention, even if their country doesn’t immediately come to mind. Private jet travel makes it possible to go there without breaking the bubble, for example, Sheldon Chalet in Alaska, Miavana in Madagascar and Rascal Voyages in Indonesia."

See also: 3 Remote Hotels For Your Next Luxury Escape

A sense of adventure

After months of lockdown, staying home and not being able to travel, Nico also states that he has seen “an increased interest in people wanting to visit more remote, off-the-beaten-path destinations in 2021. Adventurous types are looking to explore untamed wilderness frontiers and to reignite their love for travel, choosing quality over quantity. I think the pique in interest is a result of the closed conditions that we’ve been living in for the past few months; people are craving scenery, landscapes, space, and a taste of unbridled freedom. Destinations such as Mongolia, Bhutan, Antarctica, Central Asia and Patagonia all offer unique landscapes, intriguing cultures and opportune moments for storytelling.”

See also: The Rise of Sustainable Outdoor Travel Adventures—Plus The Most Beautiful And Luxurious Eco Resorts Around The World

Closer to home

On the flip side, data from Skyscanner shows that travellers may be staying cautious and opting to stay a little closer to home in 2021. Destinations such as Tokyo, Sapporo and Osaka in Japan, along with Taipei and Seoul all rank in the top 10 amongst Hong Kong travellers, according to the site’s recent research.
Cindy explains that “Taipei, an evergreen popular destination for travellers from Hong Kong, has gone down slightly in the ranks but remains a firm favourite, due to its proximity but also possibly due to the lower infection rates in the country.”

Andrea also suggests that travellers may be choosing future destinations with safety in mind. Citing destinations such as Maldives, New Zealand and Japan as top choices for his discerning clients, he explains “Safety is, of course, a top concern. Those countries that have handled the pandemic well will be favoured, even well into the second half of 2021. Maldives is an excellent example because they opened early for international travellers while managing the risks effectively. New Zealand has taken a different approach, closing the country hermetically, but, because of this, it will be perceived as a safer destination next year.”

See also: The Best Staycations In Hong Kong 2020

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.