From a humble long weekend away to taking annual leave either side of a public holiday, it’s no secret that Australians love a break. There’s even research to prove it: according to Roy Morgan, 13.7million Aussies take at least one holiday each year.
So, where are we all going and how are we spending our time off? We asked Brydie Quinlan from Travel Club Australia whether Aussies prefer to relax locally or explore off-shore, and if this year’s popular holiday destinations will top bucket lists again in 2020.
“In 2019 Travel Club has seen significant growth in Australian destinations, the UK and Japan across the year. And there is continued growth for travel to the UK and Australia expected in 2020,” says Brydie.
If you’re undecided where to spend your annual leave next year, or you’ve booked a trip to a popular location and need recommendations on must-dos, read on for inspiration on the top holiday destinations and trends for 2020.
Australia’s vast coastline
12.6million Australians holiday on home soil each year, and the country’s coastline is a firm favourite. Three of the top five domestic destinations are coastal, including the New South Wales North and South Coasts and the Gold Coast, with the Sunshine Coast coming in sixth.
This is a trend that’s expected to continue, especially as reknowned tourist hot spots recover from the natural disasters of recent years, says Brydie: “The Whitsundays is anticipated to continue to see growth with the new or renewed properties now online in that region.”
Moreton Island is a favourite for Samantha Anderson, who's holidayed there ten times. "Unspoilt paradise, beautiful beaches, great fishing; the perfect place to relax." Samantha's tip is to take everything you'll need with you, as it can be expensive to buy the basics over there.
Australia and New Zealand’s mountains
Away from the beaches, the natural beauty of a mountainous region is popular with Australian travellers. There are opporutnities to holiday at home or take a short flight across the ditch to New Zealand, which topped the list of overseas destinations with almost 1.5million Aussies visiting in the year to July 2019.
With it’s clear air, swimming holes and stunning scenery, the Snowy Mountains is a favourite of Corporate Traveller Business Leader Kim Marriner-Harries, who recommends visiting for the Wild Brumby Schnapps and to climb to the top of Mt Kosciuszko. It’s just two hours from Canberra, making it an ideal long-weekend getaway.
Travel Manager Sara Malone describes Queenstown in New Zealand as being “perfect for all seasons, with great food and wine; it’s ideal for families, couples and groups.” Sara’s tip is to splurge on a lake view room to really take in the natural beauty of the area.
Europe’s coastal café culture
In recent years, Italy has been the most visited European country by Australians, with France placing second. It’s no coincidence that both countries are bordered by the Mediteranean Sea and are known for their relaxed, outdoor lifestyle during the warmer months.
But the trend is growing to visit outside of peek season and stay in areas away from the usual tourist hot spots.
Travel Manager Samantha Anderson has visited the south of France five times for the picturesque tiny villages built of stone with clay tiles, the wild landscapes, local markets, and great food and wine. "It's best in September after the crowds have gone. You can swim in the Mediterranean, then have a glass of rose in a caffe by the water," said Samantha.
A firm favourite tourist destination is Sorrento, Italy, with Kim Marriner-Harries having just returned. Kim describes it as: “Beautiful coastline, with easy access to Capri and Amalfi Coast, but with a nightlife." Her tip is to head there in May or September, when it's less touristy but the weather is still ideal.
Tourism shifting in Asia
When it comes to Asia, statistics show that Australian travellers are shifting their preferences with visitation to Japan and China increasing, and Indonesia and Singapore decreasing in the last year. All four countries, though, have significantly more Australians visiting for a holiday than for any other reason, such as business travel.
Unique experiences in familiar locations
5.5million Australians holiday overseas and while many return to the same or nearby destinations, they are seeking new adventures. According to research, over 70% of travellers said that it was important to get out of their comfort zone and experience something new.
“We’re seeing travellers returning to the USA but travelling further afield to the national parks of Utah and Arizona; or returning to western Europe but travelling to Germany and Portugal. There has also been a lot of interest in Scandinavia for winter with ice hotels and experiences in Finland a popular choice for Christmas time,” said Brydie.
Travel Manager William Todd lived in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, a few years ago and describes it as: "Like nowhere else; canals, coffee shops, windmills, and more bikes than you can poke a stick at." William, a travel manager, recommends being there for the end of April: "Dress in orange and get amongst the madness of Kings Day; it will blow your mind."
Having recently returned from Switzerland, Travel Manager Emma Wyeth describes it as: 'Stunning scenery and beautiful towns in the middle of the mountains." Emma recommends the top of Europe - Jungfrau - as a must visit, at 11,401 feet.
If you’re heading to Turkey, try staying in a cave hotel in Cappadocia, like Travel Manager Courtney Price did this year. Courtney’s highlights of the destination were: "Unique landscapes, hot air ballooning, amazing views, hiking, and underground citites."
Travel Manager Lynsey Greig describes Vancouver, Canada, as: "A beautiful city with beautiful scenery; so much to do and a gateway to Alaskan cruising." Great people and amazing food make it an ideal place to visit all year round. Lyseny's must-dos include the Granville Markets and the Capillano suspension bridge.
Sustainable travel with a focus on wellbeing
With an increasing focus on sustainability in the travel industry, it’s not surprising that travellers are becoming more conscious of their footprint and choosing activities that align with their values. And this goes hand-in-hand with the opportunity to disconnect and focus on wellbeing.
“Wellness and digital detox destinations as well as sustainable and eco-friendly travel continue to rise in interest,” says Brydie.
Luxury holidays are more accessible
Experiences that were once out of reach for many are now more than ever becoming affordable, and adding elements of personalisation and luxury takes a holiday to a new level.
“Luxury small ship cruising make all corners of the world more accessible and affordable, such as the Panama Canal, Patagonia and Antartica,” says Brydie.
When it comes to luxury, the Maldives are top of the list for many, including Corporate Traveller Business Leader Jamie Maclean who’s visited the archipelagic nation twice. According to Jamie, the Maldives is: “an indulgent, picture-perfect island paradise for escapism.” If you’re planning a visit, Jamie recommends choosing a resort that requires a seaplane transfer to experience the magic of the destination from the air.