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11 trending destinations in 2020

11 trending destinations in 2020

Signature Luxury Travel & Style approached 11 of Australia’s most in-the-know luxury holiday experts with a simple question: What destinations around the world will be trending in 2020? The responses vary from up-and-coming hotspots to those rebounding after years of uncertainty.

Lebanon

While Lebanon has been mostly tourist-free in recent years, momentum is gathering in this ever-changing country, a place that – like Turkey – is a nexus point of the West and the Middle East. “For such a small country, Lebanon has so much to offer,” states Jo Kennedy. “Mouth-watering foods, pulsating nightlife, landscapes that stretch from the sea to the ski fields, and one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the world are just a few of the reasons this destination is experiencing a tourism revival.”

Lebanon cuisine served in restaurant. A young company of people is smoking a hookah and communicating in an oriental restaurant. Traditional meze lunch
Traditional meze lunch in Lebanon © Shutterstock

Mozambique

Venture far off the tourist trail and you’ll find Mozambique, its Indian Ocean shoreline stretching nearly 2,500 kilometres and delivering deserted islands and colourful coral reefs. “Offering a coastline perfect for snorkelling and diving, some of the best seafood in the world, incredible wildlife watching at Gorongosa National Park, a contagious Afro-Latino vibe and an array of ecofriendly resorts aimed at giving back to the communities in which they operate, Mozambique has it all,” says Tara Wheeler.

andBeyond Benguerra Island
andBeyond Benguerra Island

The ‘Stans’

For decades, much of the world has regarded Central Asia as a blank on the map, interchangeable, perhaps, with ‘the middle of nowhere’. For a certain type of traveller, this is part of the appeal. “The new ‘luxury’ is finding somewhere untouched by tourism,” says Karen Majsay. “And the former Soviet ‘Stans’ are an unknown frontier … Although paths have crossed this region for centuries, by nomads and traders alike, it is only recently becoming a destination of choice.” The medieval bluedomed cities, isolated yurts and archaeological sites of Central Asia are far removed from the modern world and encapsulate the romance of the Silk Road like nowhere else.

Entrance portal to Gur-e-Amir - a mausoleum of the Asian conqueror Timur (also known as Tamerlane) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Gur-e-Amir mausoleum in Samarkand, Uzbekistan © Shutterstock

Egypt

Following years of political instability, Egypt is once again cropping up on ‘must see’ lists, in no small part thanks to the much-anticipated opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in 2020. The 490,000-square-metre complex has been designed to complement Cairo’s other star attraction, the Pyramids of Giza, and is anticipating around five million visitors a year. “Egypt is back,” claims Alan Reis. “After suffering a severe visitation downturn as a consequence of the Arab Spring, the country’s green light appears to have been pressed again for travellers … The people of Egypt love their country, and the rest of the world is about to rejoin them.”

Egypt, Great Pyramids of Giza, bucket list

Albania

When it comes to travel, there are few mysteries remaining in Western Europe. Yet, if you take a closer look, one relatively unknown pocket remains: closed to outsiders for much of the 20th century, Albania is the missing puzzle piece of the Adriatic. “Considering the popularity of its neighbours, it is quite a feat that Albania has remained so untouched by overtourism,” muses Greg Ashmore. “With Greece to the south, and Montenegro and Croatia to the north, Albania, by contrast, is still unheard of as a package destination, despite its long and sparkling coastline.”

beautiful Jale beach between Himare and Dhermi on albanian riviera, Albania
Jale beach, Albania © Shutterstock

Bhutan

The only carbon-negative country in the world, Bhutan operates a strict ‘high-value, low impact’ tourism policy, with visitors paying a daily fee to step foot among its monastery-dotted hills. The result: a place that still reflects its original heritage, culture, architecture and environment – unmarked by the effects of overtourism – looking toward a future where travel and sustainability can work in harmony. “Far from the masses of tourists that follow the well-beaten track to Everest Base Camp each year, Bhutan has long been the Himalayas’ enigma,” says Kate Goodbun. “Until recently, its snowcapped peaks, dzong fortresses and rural farmlands were merely a rumour on most travel maps, but this is set to change – sustainably.”

Bhutan, bucket list
Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest temple complx, Bhutan

Antarctica

Often the last remaining continent on people’s travel lists, Antarctica’s crashing icebergs, surreal remoteness and unpredictable – and perhaps treacherous – conditions are adventure travel at its very peak. This is a place where the journey is as exciting as the destination, with ships facing the Drake Passage before popping up amid penguin-peppered islands. “Expedition cruising, and in particular cruising to Antarctica, is at the top of my clients’ wish lists at the moment,” notes Lucy Ballamy. “I believe that with all the press surrounding climate change, people are realising that they don’t have much longer to see some of the most beautiful and most remote places on Earth – as nature intended them.”

Hurtigruten MS Roald Amundsen in Antarctica
Hurtigruten MS Roald Amundsen in Antarctica

Rwanda

In conservationist Dian Fossey’s time, the number of mountain gorillas in the wild dropped to 242. Due to the legacy of her work and world-leading conservation efforts since, there are now about 1,000, more than half of which are sheltered in Rwanda’s volcanic Virunga Mountains. “At any price point in travel, people are now more than ever focused on sustainable tourism,” says Amy Raats. “As Rwanda is one of only two countries in the world with a mountain gorilla population, getting up close to these majestic creatures – and learning about the conservation efforts to protect them – is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Rwanda is one of two countries in the world to have mountain gorillas
Rwanda is one of two countries in the world to have mountain gorillas © Shutterstock

The Kimberley

Delivering some of the most dramatic landscapes in the country – think an impenetrable coastline, arid deserts, desolate mountains and palmfringed waterfalls – Australia’s own final frontier is beckoning off-the-beaten-path adventurers who are looking to see nature at its finest, while also escaping the crowds. Welcome to the Kimberley, the most remote and rugged pocket of WA. “While I have travelled a lot around the world, it is our very own wild and stunning corner that has captured my imagination most of all,” remarks Mario Cufone. “Many of my clients have visited Australia’s most sought-after hotspots and now want to explore somewhere untouched by the masses.”

Destinations of the decade
King George River © Dan Avila

Japan

All eyes are on Tokyo in 2020 for the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. Championing sustainability, the Olympic campus will include buildings repurposed from the city’s 1964 games, while freshly minted venues include the New National Stadium, designed by Kengo Kuma in biophilic style. Beyond Tokyo and sports, visitors can connect with the country’s culture: “There is so much more to Japan than the neon lights of Tokyo or the slopes of Niesko,” says Nathan Dare. “While it is already a popular destination, Australians are now exploring Japan in regional depth: eating kaisendon in Kanazawa, wandering Sakaimachi Street in Otaru or walking the cherryblossom trail around Gongendo Park in Saitama.”

Ryokan, ryokans, Japan
HOSHINOYA Kyoto

Georgia

Georgia may be on the rise, but its still truly off the tourist map. The country’s capital, Tibilisi, is emerging as one of the most chic in Europe, showing off with a burgeoning arts scene, worldclass restaurants and a Fashion Week that is increasingly grabbing global headlines. Don’t stop here – venture on to snowcapped mountains, green valleys and sprawling wine regions. “Georgia is quietly emerging from its Caucasus siblings as a must-see destination of 2020. The crossroads of where Asia meets Europe, this dynamic country offers rugged landscapes, a wonderful slow-food movement and a world-class wine region, meaning it’s a great choice for a variety of travellers,” comments Becky Kent-Perchalla.

Beautiful panoramic view of Tbilisi at sunset, Georgia, Europe
Tbilisi, Georgia at sunset © Shutterstock

Meet the experts

For over 20 years, Travel Associates has been opening doors to the world. Drawing on a wealth of experience and a passion for travel, the company’s in-the-know advisors craft tailored itineraries to suit any traveller’s style and tastes.

Greg Ashmore
Countries visited 62
Favourite destination Greece

Lucy Bellamy
Countries visited 42
Favourite destination The Maldives

Mario Cufone
Countries visited 52
Favourite destination Canadian Rockies

Alan Reis
Countries visited 59
Favourite destination Mykonos

Nathan Dare
Countries visited 59
Favourite destination Japan

Kate Goodbun
Countries visited 16
Favourite destination French Alps

Jo Kennedy
Countries visited 48
Favourite destination Turkey

Tara Wheeler
Countries visited 58
Favourite destination Rocky Mountains

Becky Kent-Perchalla
Countries visited 86
Favourite destination Sierra Leone

Karen Majsay
Countries visited 56
Favourite destination India

Amy Raats
Countries visited 40
Favourite destination France

Man in hat with backpack at mountain lake Kel Suu near Chinese border in Kyrgyzstan
Lake Kel Suu, Kyrgyzstan © Shutterstock

This article originally appeared in volume 37 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.