16 JAN 2019: With the holidays now in the rearview mirror, ‘tis the season to look ahead to the year to come. And in time honoured tradition, travel prognosticators are weighing in with their thoughts on what will prove hot in 2019. Here’s a sampling of some of the data-driven forecasts, informed predications and outright guesses of some companies and organizations as to where Canadians will be going as the year unfolds, and some of the trends that may be inspiring them.


G Adventures – In typical fashion, the tour operator that likes to do things a little differently has “mined data and married it with customer insights and topical world events” to offer a top-12 list of the “hottest spots to experience adventure travel in 2019.” Top of the spots, based on the hosting of this summer’s Ruby World Cup (to be followed by the summer Olympics in 2020), is Japan. The rest of the Adventurer’s Dozen: Uzbekistan, Senegal, Taiwan, northern Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Galapagos Islands, Jordan, Iceland, Ethiopia, Italy, and Patagonia (Argentina).


Insight Vacations – With travellers continuing to seek “authentic and meaningful experiences” when they travel, Insight lists top trends it expects to see emerge or continue in 2019: focus on food (farm to table, wine tours, dine at home); historic travel (including the 75th anniversary of WWII Normandy landings); sustainable-responsible travel; and celebration travel (includes Oktoberfest).

Exodus Travel – Through a decidedly environmentally and socially conscious prism, Exodus predicts (wishes?) that the following trends will blossom in 2019: Fighting the war on plastics; 100% hands-off wildlife encounters; empowering vulnerable communities through responsible, respectful, and non-invasive travel; a return to the Middle East (including Egypt); an influx of “travel virgin” trips – jetsetters accompanying those with an empty passport; cycling wine tours; African safaris, inspired by Disney’s upcoming live action remake of The Lion King; an increase of self-discovery pilgrimages and immersive cultural experiences in off-the-beaten track locations; travelling less but staying longer; looking for llamas, the year’s “it” animal; ditching the ship and exploring the Mediterranean on foot; and home stays in exotic destinations.


Contiki – New destinations from Belarus to Sri Lanka make up Contiki’s top 10 hot list for 18- to 35-year travellers based on research conducted by the tour company. “Millennials are willing to travel far and wide in order to have that once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says Contiki, which adds that 40% of its survey respondents pegged experiencing local culture of the destination they’re visiting as a top deciding factor, with another one-third specifically on the hunt for adventure-based travel. The list: Jordan, Sri Lanka, Scotland, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, Belarus, Mexico, Slovenia, and Belize.


CLIA – Top trends for 2019, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) include: Instagrammable Cruise Travel (new and exciting places to post on social media); Total Restoration (checking out from the stress of fast-paces lives); Achievement Over Experience (immersive, cultural experiences beyond sightseeing); Wearable Technology for cruise travellers in order to provide a highly personalized travel experience while on and off the ship; Conscious Travel (engaging local economies while preserving local cultures, landmarks and environments); Access is the New Luxury (visiting destinations that were previously out of reach, some only accessible now by cruise ship); Gen Z at Sea (providing authentic experiences over material items); Off-Peak Adventures (frosty excursions to see the Northern Lights, visiting a penguin colony, and touring European Christmas Markets); Working Nomads (combining work with leisure time); Female-Centre Cruising (gender-specific itineraries and connecting women); and Going Solo.

CruiseCompete – The respected online cruise marketplace identifies three trending cruise experiences for this year: Dark Skies Cruising, as stargazers seek to escape light pollution on land; Genealogy Cruising, reflecting the surge in travel based on people’s desire to visit the cities and countries that feature prominently in their family history; and Mystery Cruising, as consumers continue to seek “roads not yet mapped by Google and where there is only intermittent electricity and Wi-Fi, a few cold showers and fermented mares’ milk as a treat along the way!” A related genre is cruising to sacred places to explore a different kind of mystery.


China – While it may not happen this year, leading strategic market research firm Euromonitor International says China is on its way to overtaking France as the world’s top popular holiday spot. The coup should be complete by 2030, forecasts EI.


Virtuoso – Including “beachside escapes, historic properties, modern stunners and nature retreats,” the global luxury travel network’s list of this year’s hottest upscale hotels – “properties that dazzle with scenic settings, stunning design and impeccable service” – includes: Antara Quy Nhon Villas, Vietnam; Silversands Grenada; Belmond Cadogan Hotel, U.K.; Six Senses, Bhutan; Rosewood Hong Kong; The Lodge at Blue Sky, Utah; Hotel de la Ville, Italy; Equinox Hotel, Hudson Yards, New York; Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti, Italy; Four Seasons Hotel São Paulo at Nações Unidas, Brazil; Nobu Hotel Los Cabos, Mexico; Waldorf Astoria Maldives; and The Times Square EDITION, New York.


Egencia – Toronto is the world’s fifth most popular city for business travel, according to Expedia’s corporate division. Ontario’s capital trailed New York, London, Paris and Shanghai. The top 10 was rounded out by Singapore, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Chicago. Montreal ranked 15th.


Virtuoso – Not content to merely name the year’s top luxury hotels, Virtuoso has also weighed in with its peak experiences for 2019, compiled through suggestions from 17,500 global travel advisors: Skydive in New Zealand; experience endless daylight in both hemispheres by cruising to Norway’s North Cape to mark the summer solstice on June 21 or to the Chile’s South Cape on Dec. 21; travel by luxury rail from Paris to Istanbul on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express; dine at Tickets in Barcelona; commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy; rock the Rugby World Cup in Japan; explore the undersea world by submarine at the Four Seasons Resort Maldives; view the 2019 solar eclipse July 2 with a glamping experience in northern Chile; and discover Croatia's coastal communities from the comfort of a private yacht.


Booking.com – From cultural exchanges and eco activism to virtual agents and a “less is more” mentality – here are the biggest travel trends for 2019, according to Booking.com, based on insights gathered from over 163 million guest reviews and research from 21,500 travellers across 29 countries:

• The Appren-trip: 2019 will see a rise in people’s desire to learn something new while away, as well as an increase in volunteering and skills-based vacations across generations.

• Easy does it: Technology that can seamlessly offer practical solutions to travellers will continue to expand. Think keyless room-access with your phone, personalized travel tips or a robotic concierge who can communicate with guests in their mother tongue.

• Watch this space – uncharted territories: NASA will start construction of a Lunar Space Station in 2019 (launching in 2022) leading to continued investment in orbital spaceflight. Travel and other consumer goods companies will be conduct tests on earth to prepare for a future in space and meet consumer appetite for braving the new frontier.

• Up close and personal: As the way in which travel information is consumed and used, generic, comprehensive travel guides of the past will make way for increasingly short-form, hyper relevant and individualized content, which can be neatly integrated in travellers’ feeds.

• Conscious travel: Reflecting increased global interest in social issues such as human rights, equality and working conditions, 2019 will see a more conscious traveller become evident, with even more questions being asked around social, political and environmental issues in potential travel destinations before making a decision on where to visit.

• Plastic not-so fantastic: The issue of single-use plastic will continue to be a hot topic, but in 2019 environmental concerns will turn into greater environmental action as Millennials and Gen Z travellers look for sustainable experiences in their destination, while accommodation providers will look to reduce their plastic usage and increase their sustainable credentials.

• The experience curator: Travel with experiences at its core was one of 2018’s major travel trends but 2019 will take it even further. ‘Doing’ will weigh equally with “going,” if not more, when it comes to travel, and for almost two thirds of travellers (60%) experiences are now valued higher than material possessions.

• Maximizing the micro: Over half of global travelers (53%) report they plan to take more weekend trips in 2019. It’s a year that’s predicted to be all about made-to-measure, bite-sized travel with more curated travel itineraries squeezed into shorter time frames. Less is most definitely more!



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Michael Baginski

Editor at Large, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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