Travel trends 2024: beyond the bucket list

As 2024 approaches, the call for immersive travel experiences is growing louder. Whether it’s exploring familiar favourites or less-chartered territories, our travellers want to connect with the places they visit on a deeper level. And with an eye on the economic outlook, people are prioritising value, prompting cost-consciousness throughout their lifestyle. Responding to these current trends, here are the top 10 hotspots we’re putting on your radar for the coming year.


Thailand’s bold comeback


One of the last regions to re-open after the pandemic, Thailand is now firmly back on the map with a notable uptake in bookings for 2024. Not only does a holiday here bring remarkable value for money – thanks to a favourable exchange rate amplifying the pounds’ worth, but travellers can engage in jungle escapades, city explorations and beach serenity all in one transformative trip.

While classics like Bangkok and Phuket continue to shine, there’s a rising curiosity for offbeat journeys. The Bush Camp Chiang Mai, sister property to the award-winning Elephant Hills, offers a glimpse into the lives of the Karen Hilltribe and the chance to observe elephants in their natural habitat. We recommend pairing this glamping experience with a stay at Raya Heritage, an old-worldly retreat just a short drive from the bustling markets and temples of Chiang Mai.

Beach lovers looking for a less-mainstream island will love bohemian Koh Jum, a tiny island that we’ve just introduced this year. Koh Jum Beach Villas, the country’s first Travelife Gold property, is a great example of how Thailand is making progressive steps towards sustainability. This is island living at its best – chic seaside villas, farm-to-table dining and eco-conscious practices like recycling and solar energy.


Greece: All-inclusive redefined


What’s not to love about Greece? First up there's Athens, a cradle of history. There are the world-famous sunsets of Santorini, mythical Minoan ruins in Crete and tiny, pine-clad isles like Skopelos. But Greece has much to offer beyond its beach retreats and there's a surge in interest for immersive island-hopping getaways, with combos like Santorini and Mykonos gaining popularity. Our customers are embracing our experts’ recommendations for exploratory trips, opting for intricate itineraries that blend diverse Greek experiences into one unforgettable holiday.

Numerous Greek Isles hotels are spot on with current trends, winning their place on our 2024 hotlist. Ikos Resorts has become a top choice for families seeking high-quality dining and exclusive experiences. Notably, four of their top Greek outposts, including Ikos Dassia and Ikos Aria, have secured places in TripAdvisor's 'Top 25 All-Inclusive Resorts in the World'. Honeymooners continue to favour private pool hideaways such as Eagles Villas, while adult-only havens like Domes Aulūs Elounda add an extra layer of glamour with their 'cool-inclusive' concept.

As we approach 2024, we're emphasising the importance of early bookings for summer; Greece's allure has never been stronger.


South Africa: a nation of layers


From iconic wildlife sightings in Kruger National Park, world-class food and drink in the Winelands and whale watching in Hermanus, South Africa’s versatile travel experiences just keep drawing our customers back.

While first-timers favour road trips along the Garden Route and city sightseeing in vibrant Cape Town, we’re seeing visitors return to the Rainbow Nation for a deeper dive into the country’s hidden gems. To meet this demand, we’ve created a fresh itinerary in KwaZulu-Natal, an often-overlooked area that’s home to historic battlefields, mountain vistas and rich Zulu culture.

With no jetlag to contend with and malaria-free game reserves, families are increasingly drawn to South Africa. Our new family itinerary, designed with the UK school summer holidays in mind, combines adventures in Nelson Mandela’s hometown with safaris in Madikwe Game Reserve, where kids’ can enjoy their very own game drives.

South African Tourism will also play a pivotal role in attracting travellers next year with impactful campaigns. They’ve enlisted South African comedian Trevor Noah and rugby player Siya Kolisi to be advocates for the country’s charm.


Mauritius: a pint-sized paradise


As the cost of living continues to rise, Mauritius remains an affordable haven for long-haul travel, which is why we’re tipping it for continued success in 2024. A firm favourite among Kuoni travellers, this Indian Ocean idyll brings big adventures on one compact island, earning the title of ‘The Indian Ocean’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination’ at the 2023 World Travel Awards.

While legendary beachfront hotels like Shangri-La Le Touessrok Mauritius and The Oberoi Beach Resort Mauritius set the stage for VIP treatment, new players like LUX* Grand Baie bring refreshing designs and a focus on fun. Attitude Resorts stand out as sustainable champions, blending authentic experiences with planet-friendly practices.

We’re finding that travellers want more meaningful travel experiences outside the borders of their all-inclusive hotel. A top choice is twinning a beach stay with mountain serenity at Lakaz Chamarel Exclusive Lodge. Moreover, conservation tours like our Plant a Love Tree initiative and Mauritian Wildlife Experience, supported by the Der Touristik Foundation, promise to enrich our customer’s holidays further.


The wilderness wonders of Namibia


Namibia is something of a well-kept secret in Africa, often overshadowed by safari giants like Kenya and Tanzania. However, the tide is turning, and we foresee Namibia gaining attention in 2024 as adventurous customers forge their path off the beaten track. This remote, rugged terrain not only provides cost-effective travel – the pound is strong against the Namibian Dollar – but it has incredible game viewing and geographical marvels, including the world's highest sand dunes and the oldest desert.

Our new Namibia Explorer Tour has been carefully crafted to take in the country’s highlights, from the surreal skeletal trees of Sossusvlei to thrilling wildlife encounters in Etosha National Park. Self-drive adventures are also recommended, due to the excellent infrastructure, left side driving and short distances between major sights.


Portugal: sip and savour


Portugal, renowned for sun-and-sea escapes since the '70s, is undergoing a travel transformation. Beyond familiar favourites like Madeira and the Algarve, the spotlight is now on its less-trodden regions, largely driven by a boom in culinary tourism.

City breaks in Lisbon and Porto bring gastronomic delights ranging from flavourful seafood dishes to extraordinary Michelin-star dining. Meanwhile, the volcanic archipelago of the Azores features unique delicacies like cozido das furnas, a hearty slow-cooked stew heated by volcanic steam. In Northern Portugal, the picturesque Douro Valley, famed for its terraced vineyards, is a haven for wine enthusiasts. Explore it leisurely on a river cruise or stay at the Vintage House Hotel for exquisite ports and scenic views.

In tune with the experiential travel wave, our Portugal Self-drive has been a big hit, along with our Lisbon, Azores & Porto itinerary. We predict a continued uptick in bookings for multi-centre trips throughout 2024.


The resurgence of Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka, the teardrop of India, holds a special place in our history, consistently securing a spot among Kuoni’s top five destinations. Despite recent challenges, it’s reclaiming its status as a top travel pick, offering a mix of wondrous wildlife, delectable cuisine and unmatched hospitality. Tourist arrivals surpassed one million in 2023, setting an undeniably positive tone for 2024.

More honeymooners are looking to combine cultural adventures with relaxation in the Maldives, due to Sri Lanka gaining traction on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Beyond the social media buzz, Sri Lanka attracts a diverse range of travellers. Our expanded portfolio includes unique route ideas and distinctive hotels, such as boutique Haritha Villas + Spa, perfect for wellness enthusiasts, and the awe-inspiring Hide Ella Hotel & Resort, perched on a dramatic 60-degree slope with breathtaking mountain views.

Looking forward, the tourist board is committed to enhancing experiences in 2024. Their focus on sustainable growth and attractions like the Pekoe Trail – a new long-distance hiking route from the Hanthana Mountains to Nuwara Eliya’s hill stations – signals exciting developments on the horizon.


Canada: beyond the icons


Canada is making its mark as one of our top-requested locales, thanks to this year’s hit BBC One series, Race Across the World. Alongside the magnetic appeal of posterchild sights like Niagara Falls and the breathtaking Rockies, there's a shift towards unconventional travel itineraries. Independent self-drives, unhurried slow travel and overland rail journeys are becoming the preferred way to explore Canada’s changing landscapes.

Heritage routes on the Rocky Mountaineer and The Canadian, continue to thrive, while the little-known Skeena Train – featured in our Western Canada by Rail and Sail itinerary – reveals the vast beauty of British Columbia.

Nature lovers will be in their element at Knight Inlet Lodge, a floating lodge cast far away from Canada’s towns and cities, with rustic log cabins and incredible bear-spotting opportunities. With an expanding interest in extended holidays, Alaska cruises are a popular addition to adventures in the ‘Great White North’.


Grenada: The Spice Isle


Resonating with the familiar call for conscious tourism, Grenada has climbed the charts as one of our most desirable destinations. Dubbed a small-scale Costa Rica, this lesser-known isle channels the pura vida lifestyle with a Caribbean twist.

Venture inland to discover Mother Nature at her finest— cascading waterfalls, volcanic lakes and rainforests teeming with biodiversity. The untamed north is home to rustic eco-resorts like Petite Anse, while the coastline has upscale resorts like Silversands Grenada, set against powder-white beaches and lagoons filled with marine life. One of the most famous snorkelling sites is Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park, a submerged aquatic masterpiece that has evolved this year with the integration of 31 new sculptures.

Looking ahead to 2024, Grenada's hotel sector is set for significant growth. Spice Island Beach Resort is making a stellar comeback after a substantial spruce-up. Additionally, the much-anticipated debut of Six Senses La Sagesse in spring is set to turn heads, asserting Grenada as a compelling choice against the more established Caribbean islands.


India’s evolution


Last but certainly not least is India, a country evolving at a remarkable pace. It's a destination for every kind of holiday, with each region offering distinct experiences, from boating through the sleepy backwaters of Kerala to invigorating hikes in the Himalayan foothills.

The key driver continues to be exceptional value, offering private touring at affordable rates and a wide range of hotels suitable for all budgets. Homestays have become a favourite, providing immersive encounters with locals who’ll share their insider tips, cook up regional specialities and make you feel like you've found a home away from home.

Our extensive range includes small group tours in the famed Golden Triangle and opulent stays in Oberoi hotels. We’ve also added a Northern India highlights trip, Exploring India’s Intriguing North, as well as our Tale of Two Cities and the Andaman Islands itinerary, which ventures far beyond the tourist trail.


Inspired?


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