What the experts say about international travel in 2021

WHERE TO?: Antarctica, New Zealand, Scandinavia and Africa are on the wish lists for 2021. Picture: File images
WHERE TO?: Antarctica, New Zealand, Scandinavia and Africa are on the wish lists for 2021. Picture: File images

Brittany Lazarus asks industry experts where we'll be travelling when it's finally safe to get off the island.

We holidayed here this year - but what about next? Travel agents across the country say Aussies are still playing it safe, but overseas bookings are starting to roll in slowly. With the New Year approaching, many of us are feeling the burnout of months on end of nine-to-five, endless zoom meetings and cancelled holidays and celebrations. As a nation we are ready to put 2020 in the past and look to the future, even though that future is still a little foggy.

When interstate borders reopened we celebrated. And now we wait with bated breath for the vaccine that promises to see us back on planes and dancing our way across the continents at weddings and concerts - with more than just a few friends.

But just how are we planning on travelling in 2021?

Across the globe, travel companies are gearing up to help Australians visit all corners of the globe once again. Tour providers are working hard to reduce group sizes and implement health procedures to give guests more peace of mind. These are the destinations the experts say Aussies are beginning to book:

New Zealand and the South Pacific

First on everybody's lists will be New Zealand and South Pacific holidays. New Zealand has already slated a March opening of its borders to Australian travellers.

The AAT Kings team in New Zealand are looking forward to showing off their backyard, and in 2021 there are big plans to have you travelling sustainably and lowering the impact of travel.

Matthew Fuller, AAT Kings Group CEO, said: "We're expecting enormous demand when travel is reopened. We can't wait to introduce our guests to the amazing culture and personality of New Zealand's regional communities and to explore those incredible landscapes again."

It's believed that New Zealand's major cities will see a boom in visitors from across the ditch with Qantas announcing a few weekly services between Sydney and Auckland.

"We know there's a huge amount of pent-up demand for travel between Australia and New Zealand and we're looking forward to adding significant amounts of capacity across the Tasman once details about the bubble and when it will begin is confirmed," a Qantas spokesperson said.

Nick Hill, the chief executive of Auckland Unlimited, said there has been massive changes to the city.

"Auckland is undergoing a massive transformation and our Aussie friends can look forward to experiencing a lot more than before," he told news.com.au.

"Our culinary scene is topnotch, we have new accommodation offerings and two of New Zealand's top international attractions - Weta Workshop Unleashed and the All Blacks Experience - have opened their doors in the heart of the city's entertainment precinct. Auckland is certainly open for business and ready to welcome you back."

He also added that there is plenty to do outside the city.

"From stargazing on Great Barrier Island - the first island in the world to be granted the dark sky sanctuary status - to vineyard hopping on Waiheke Island, or coastal clifftop glamping experiences, Tamaki Makaurau Auckland has so much to offer, whether you're visiting friends and family, or travelling here for the very first time."

Europe

Land tours and river cruises throughout Europe are beginning to see a slow resurgence in bookings.

Katrina Barry, managing director of Trafalgar, Contiki and Costsaver, said: "With our guests missing out on international travel this year, they're keen to make the most of their holidays with 60 per cent ready to travel once restrictions are lifted."

She adds that the return of travel on the continent is currently characterised by longer tours, with more than 70 per cent of the company's tours longer than 15 days.

Looking at current bookings, Ms Barry said European Christmas markets in 2021 and the Scandinavian Northern Lights itineraries are the focus of Australian tourists.

North America

The Canadian Rockies are proving a popular choice for those daring to book internationally.

Ms Barry said: "The Canadian Rockies are our guests' destination of choice in North America for 2021, for the incredible expanse of vast scenery... This place is truly a site to behold and a natural paradise."

According to Ms Barry, Southern USA will also be a popular choice for those chasing its bustling music and food scenes.

Antarctica and Africa

Although not quite as popular yet, the far-flung corners of Antarctica and Africa will appeal to Australians in the next two years.

"We're seeing people look to the end of 2021 and 2022 for big bucket list trips that they've always wanted to do. Australians are increasingly interested in private touring and big open spaces like Africa/Antarctica," said Neil Rodgers, managing director of Adventure World Travel.

He also noted sustainability is becoming increasingly more important for international travellers.

"We're also seeing a trend in wanting to travel more sustainably so are working with the TreadRight Foundation on some unique small group journeys for 2022 that focus on wildlife and sustainable travel."

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